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V ..|'!«lil 

Smithsonian Institution 

Alexander Wetmore 

1 c) 4 6 Sixth Secretary 1955 


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[The right of Trcmslation is reserved.} 





Her Majesty's Consul- General at Venice, 







^htu page^ mz Itrstrikb- 





Paris, May, 1865. 




Introductory .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1 


Discovery ot America. — Foundation of Colonies. — Discovery of Terra 
Fii-ma 10 


Discovery of the Pacific. — Settlement at Darien. — Introduction oi 
Slavery. — Indians of tke Isthmus. — Attempted Colonization of 
Darien. — Scotch Expedition. — Old Panama. — Puerto Bello. — 
Chagres. — Drake's View of the Pacific. .. .. .. .. 23 


Destruction of Old Panama. — Foundation of the present City. — 
Spanish Policy in the Colonies. — The New City of Panamd .. 55 


New Granada. — State of Panama. — Recognition of the Independence. 
— Early British Enterprise .. .. .. .. .. .. 78 


Opening of the Railway. — British Mail Packets. — American Steam 
Ships. — Isthmus Surveys. — The Panama Railway .. .. 90 




The Atlantic Voyage .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 102 


The Island of Manzanilla. — Harbour of Colon. — Landing at Colon. — 
" City of Aspinwall." — Climate of Colon. — English and American 
Views of Colon. — Departure of the Trains .. .. .. .. 119 


Railway Fare. — Travellers' Luggage. — Improvement of the Railway. 
— Isthmus Scenery. — Crossing the Isthmus in 1853. — Crossing the 
Isthmus in Old Times. — Arrival of the Americans .. .. 13G 


Panama of the present day. — Houses at Panama. — Last of the 
Nuns. — Convents at Panamd. — Chain-gang Beggars. — Population. 
— Men in Office. — New Granadian Revolutions. — Debility of 
Spanish America. — Bolivar's Congress . . . . . . . . 165 


Contemplated Transfer of the Capital. — Elections. — Police. — Revolu- 
tion of 1861-2. — American Intervention. — Neutrality of the 
Isthmus. — Lawyers .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 191 


Climate. — Sanitary Regulations.-^Prudence required in Living. — 
Society. — Women. —Dress. — Men. — Bull-teasing .. ., .. 217 


Religion. — Hospitals. — Cemeteries. — Market. — Cost of Living. — Ser- 
vants. — Labour. — Insects .. .. .. .. .. .. 238 


Taxes. — Bank — Newspapers. — Shops and Stores. — Commerce. — Cot- 
ton. — Panam4 Hats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255 


The Transit Tiade. — Steam Ships .. .. .. .. .. 276 




The Islands .. 289 

Nationality of the Railway . . . . . . . . . . . , 299 

Natural Resources of the Isthmus . . . . . . . . . . 322 

Chiriqui 341 


Communications -vvith the Isthmus. — Distances, Fares, and Freights 353 






Mr. Anthony Trollope, in his capital book on the 
West Indies and Spanish Main, says, "Panama has 
now, doubtless, become a place of importance to 
Englishmen and Americans. But, nevertheless, it 
is a place whose glory has passed away. It was 
a large Spanish town, strongly fortified, with some 
thirty thousand inhabitants, now its fortifications 
are mostly gone, its churches are tumbling to the 
ground, its old houses have so tumbled, and its old 
Spanish population has vanished." 

I have endeavoured to collect, and shall here en- 
deavour to give, some fuller account of this now 
tumbling-down Panama; some useful information, if 
possible, regarding the Panama of the present day. 
Everyone who for the first time commits himself or 
herself to print has generally, or at least appears to 
have, a grand motive to show for doing so, but I fear 



I have not even a plea to urge for my temerity. I 
have often wondered, however, what availeth with the 
generality of readers, such pleas as are frequently 
given in : most of them appear to me, at best, but very 
poor pegs to hang the failure of a book upon ; nor is 
it, I think, any especial reason that people should 
make themselves ridiculously conspicuous, or con- 
spicuously ridiculous in print, because they have a 
motive to show and set forth in their preface. I may 
as well, therefore, own frankly and at once, that in 
these pages I have worked without other object than 
to occupy occasional idle hours whilst "at anchor" 
at Panama, — hours of all hours intolerable there. 
Publication has been a second thought. Would that 
I could write as the Panama newspaper boasts to 

"For the cause that lacks assistance, 
For the wrong that needs resistance. 
For the future in the distance, 
And the good that I may do." 

I have to ask indulgence for inserting in these 
pages much that has appeared before, in one book or 
another. I do not claim to be original, except in 
those matters which have come under my personal 
observation during long but occasional visits to Pana- 
ma. My object has rather been to get together re- 
liable and, if possible, useful information, and to 
correct some popular errors regarding what is now a 
really important place, however tumbled down it may 
appear to be. 

I must confess, too, that I understand nothing about 


book-making, nothing about dividing what I shall have 
to say into suitable chapters, and placing it under 
proper headings ; all this labour may be my pub- 
lisher's, not mine. I fear, too, that I am as terribly 
given to digressions as Dean Swift in his " Tale of a 
Tub." If this feature alarms my readers they must refer 
to the index, and pick out from it the subjects on 
which they require, or will accept, information. I 
do at least trust that my publisher will give me an 
index. One thing, however, is certain — certain beyond 
all doubt, and may thus early be stated : it is almost 
impossible to dine continually off Panama beef. The 
palate of the simplest feeder on the Isthmus cannot 
stand this, and requires some change. If, however, as 
is frequently the case, the change is worse than the 
beef, one returns to the beef. If, therefore, the 
'^entrees'' to be found at my "feed" are more un- 
palatable than Panama '' beef," the return to the beef 
is simply inevitable. Whenever I make a voyage on 
board one of the Royal Mail Company's steamers, I 
eat mutton ; mutton chops for breakfast, roast or 
boiled mutton for dinner — not that I am particularly 
fond of mutton, or that there is nothing else to eat ; 
there are lots of other things ; lots of entrees, and of 
the French cuisine, about which Captain Mangles 
periodically enlightens the shareholders of that com- 
pany ; but somehow it seems to me, and particularly 
after a year or two of tropical beef, that mutton is 
the best dish on board ; so, try which other I may, I 
invariably return to it. It does not annoy me, how- 

B 2 


ever, that the entrees and the French cuisine are there ; 
so I am led to hope that my readers will be as indul- 
gent, and pardon my digressions as I pardon the 
Company's entrees. 

When I returned to England, a year or two ago, 
having' been absent from it for some half-dozen years 
previously, I was astonished and often amused by the 
curious questions that were asked me respecting 
Panama, by generally well-informed persons. One 
gentleman, a member of parliament, inquired, with 
perfect innocence, whether Panama was one of the 
northern or southern states of America, and how it 
would probably be affected by the unhappy struggle 
between those States ? Another, no less a magnate 
than a London banker, asked me, in 1862, whether it 
was probable that the railway across the Isthmus would 
be completed. While a third — but this was a gentle- 
man from Cork, who was about to proceed to British 
Colombia as the correspondent, as he said, " for several 
leading newspapers " — inquired whether Panama was 
not an island, and whether there were not still 
cannibals there ! Another, too, a fair country-woman 
of my own, who, on her arrival at Colon, heard for the 
first time the bellowing of an American steam-engine, 
anxiously begged to be informed what wild beast it 
was that was roaring. 

Yet all this is not perhaps much to be wondered at, 
for, as far as I can learn, the majority of Englishmen 
have not hitherto had much modern information re- 
garding Panama thrust upon them. Even Mr. 


Murray has not yet thought it worthy of a Hand- 
book. The writer of an article in a recent number 
of " All the Year Eound/' gives an amusing account 
of the reports she had received of Panama previous to 
arrival at that place : — 

"'Panama!' echoed a Limanian gentleman — 'a hell 
upon earth ! a sink of yellow fever, of intermittent 
fever and ague, of dirt, of fiery, burning heat, — overrun 
with Yankees.' ' Panama !' cried another with a deri- 
sive laugh ; ' give you joy of it. Thermometer ranges 
from 96 degrees to 100 degrees in the shade. If you 
live six months, thank your stars.' ' Well,' a third 
gentleman observes placidly, * I never lived there 
myself, thank God, but I've crossed the Isthmus, and 
I've been three days in the dirty town. The air of 
the Isthmus laid me prostrate with fever, and the bells 
sent me raving mad while I lay sick; that's all / 
know of Panama.' "* 

So much for popular opinions. Indeed, writers 
fond of indulging their imagination, appear to feel as 
safe on the subject of Panama as an American consul 
is said to have felt, when called upon to read a paper 
on the outlandish place to which he had been sent, 
before one of the learned societies. He felt that there 
would be no one present who could contradict him, or 
set him right in his errors. So, methinks, Captain 
Pim must have felt when he wrote in his book, " The 
Gate of the Pacific," " that he has known the streets 
of the city of Panama so completely flooded, that the 

* "Panama as a Home," in "All the Year Round," May, 1863. 


boys amused themselves by swimming round the 

From such accounts as these it is only one step to 
those given us in tales of fiction. " Ye little ken, 
leddie," says Sandy Partan, in his. counsel to Alice 
Graeme, " what it is to crass the says, and what a sair 
land it is ayont 'em. No but its pretty to look on ; wi' 
its heavens o' blue, and its gran' fragrant forests and 
bonnie birds, and clear waters. But it's what auld 
Tam wad hae call'd a painted sapulker, fair 'ithout, 
but 'ithin fu' o' corruption. What wi' favers and 
buccaneers^ and serpints and Spaniards, and ither rep- 
tiles, it's nae place for Christian man, muckle mair 
young leddies."t 

While, if one turns to the ordinary books of refer- 
ence, one gets rather bewilderment than enlighten- 
ment : Maunder, for instance — who certainly, how- 
ever, does occasionally get up startling information 
about " foreign parts " — tells us in his " Treasury of 
Knowledge," "that the natives of the Isthmus go 
naked, and in many places build their houses upon 
trees, to be elevated from the damp soil and the rep- 
tiles engendered in the putrid waters." J 

Unqualified information such as this may well 
startle the British emigrant or traveller about to 
cross the Isthmus. But Panama had, until lately, 
relapsed into a place that nobody cared very much 
about, so that, as I have said, beyond knowing, in the 

* Pirn's " Gate of the Pacific." f Warburton's " Darien." 

J " Maunder's Treasury of Knowledge." 


language of the school geography, that the Isthmus is 
a narrow neck of land which unites the continents of 
North and South America, I am apt to believe that 
we in England really do not know very much about 
Panama. Whether what I may be able to tell is 
worth the knowing, is another question. 

But, after all, it is not surprising that the Isthmus 
of Panama had been lost sight of, as it were, in 
England, when even amongst the Americans them- 
selves — who were so much nearer, and who had 
created an interest and stake in the country — very 
little correct popular information was possessed. The 
president of the Panama Railroad Company writing to 
one of the directors, five years after it was opened, said : 

" Erroneous impressions in regard to the sources of 
the business of the Panama railroad prevail exten- 
sively even among intelligent business men and mem- 
bers of our own (American) councils, many regarding 
it simply as a sort of appendage to California. The 
fact is overlooked that while California has a popu- 
lation estimated at only 500,000, the population of 
Central America is over two millions, and that portion 
of South America, whose only means of communi- 
cating with the Atlantic is either by the Isthmus of 
Panama or around Cape Horn, contains nearly eight 
millions. Trade with South America and Central 
America had been carried on heretofore almost exclu- 
sively by England, that between the United States 
and those countries being estimated at not more than 
ten per cent, of the whole. 


" Of all the freight transported over the Panamd 
railroad not more than one-tenth had for the first 
four years any connection with California ; nine-tenths 
at least coiqisisted of British manufactured and other 
goods, shipped to South America and Central America, 
and of the produce of those countries in return, such 
as indigo, cochineal, india-rubber, coffee, cocoa, deer- 
skins, goat-skins, orchilla, pearl shells, tobacco, bal- 
sams, Peruvian bark, ores, straw hats, etc. etc. 

" Comparatively nothing is shipped from California 
by the Panama route except a few cases of silk sent 
there from China, small parcels of ores, and occasional 
lots of whalebone."* 

All these things make me hope, and I trust I may 
so hope, without vanity or presumption, that the 
notes collected together in these pages may, to some 
people, prove useful. But to keep to my text — for 
these remarks are at best a digression — we have first, 
as the earlier voyagers had, a little rough travelling 
to do before we find ourselves at this Panama, about 
which I am to endeavour to relate my experiences and 
opinions. In reminding my readers of some of the 
incidents of the earlier history of the Isthmus, I have, 
whenever possible, culled from the pages of those who 
have already given us the most charming accounts of 
the New World. 

Probably, there is no modern history more interest- 
ing and full of adventure than that of the Spanish 

Private Letter, afterwards published, from the President of the Panama 
Eailroad Company to one of the Directors. 


conquest in South America, a history in these days so 
accessible to every reader under the charming guidance 
of such writers as Prescott and Helps. Perhaps there 
is no place more intimately connected with those con- 
quests than the Isthmus of Panama. It was, as 
Sagres was to the Portuguese discoveries in Africa, 
" a centre from whence the electric energy of enter- 
prise was communicated to discoverers, and collected 
from them." 

Before, therefore, attempting to give an account of 
the Panama of the present day, it may not be amiss 
to recall to our recollection something of the ante- 
cedents of the Panama of the past; of that city to 
which the emperor Charles the Fifth gave the title of 
" very noble and very loyal." 

[ 10 ] 


Discovery of America. — Foundation of Colonies. — Discovery of Terra 


We have all of us, in our school days, read how 
Christopher Colon, or Columbus, the daring Genoese 
navigator, stimulated by the spirit of adventure which 
prevailed in the latter part of the fifteenth century, 
pursued, under the auspices of Spain, his voyage of dis- 
covery. In 1501, Columbus, roused to emulation 
by the achievement of Yasco de Gam a of the long- 
attempted navigation to India by the Cape of Good 
Hope, " conceived the idea of a voyage in which, with 
his usual enthusiasm, he hoped to surpass not merely 
the discoveries of Yasco de Gama, but even those of 
his own previous expeditions." "He was persuaded 
that there must be a strait existing somewhere about 
the Caribbean Sea opening into the Indian Sea. The 
situation in which he placed his conjectural strait 
was somewhere about what is at present called the 
Isthmus of Darien."* And in the search for this 
strait, the mainland of America^ first thought to be an 
island in 1498, was discovered. 

I have said that it was under the auspices of Spain 

* Irving's "History of the Life and Voyages of Columbus." 


that Columbus was enabled to pursue his voyages of 
discovery; but it should rather be said that it was 
under the immediate auspices and protection of the 
Queen Isabella, and then only, as we remember, after 
eight years spent at court in entreaties for the means, 
and permission to carry them out. " I undertake the 
enterprise for my own crown of Castile, and I will 
pledge my private jewels to raise the money,"* said the 
queen, when the king and his advisers were still 
looking coldly on the grand scheme of Columbus 
And so America was discovered for the crown of 

"With his enthusiasm for the queen, Irving says — 
'' This was the proudest moment in the life of Isabella : 
it stamped her renown for ever as the patroness of the 
discovery of the New World." j 

It has been well remarked that " the greatest genius, 
combined with the greatest daring that ever centred in 
the mind of man, was exhibited in the magnificent 
enterprise of Columbus. It was crowned by such 
success as none before or after him can rival, and re- 
warded by the revelation of a new world of such 
beauty and rare endowments as might now appear a 
tradition of Paradise, if the first discovery had not 
been so fatally followed up."| 

" The joy occasioned by the great discovery of 
America was not confined to Spain. The tidings were 
spread far and wide, by the communication of ambas- 

* Irving's *' History of the Life and Voyages of Columbus." 
t Ibid. X Warburton's " Darien." 


sadors, the correspondence of the learned, the ne- 
gotiations of merchants, and the reports of travellers, 
and the whole civilized world was filled with wonder 
and delight." At the court of Henry YII. the dis- 
covery was pronounced a thing more divine than 

"And what adventure it w^s ! New trees, new men, 
new animals, new stars to be seen. Nothing bounded, 
nothing trite ; nothing which had the bloom taken off 
by much previous description ! These early voyagers, 
moreover, were like children coming out to take their 
first gaze into the world with ready credulity and un- 
limited fancy, willing to believe in fairies and demons, 
Amazons and forms of a lower hemisphere, mystic 
islands, and fountains of perpetual youth." f 

" The far-famed visionary * Islands of the Blest ' seemed 
to have lain there, among the crystal waters of those 
unknown seas, happy from all eternity. The gentle, 
loving, reverential islanders, whose wants were all 
abundantly, yet without labour, supplied by their 
woods, were fit inhabitants for such a region. If 
among their many people were found some fierce, 
cruel Caribs^ the contrast formed but a necessary shade 
to render the too bright picture human, and to qualify 
the serene existence of the western islanders with a salu- 
tary dread. They seem to have known no other; 
cold and hunger and nakedness had for them no more 
terrors than in Paradise ; glowing sunshine or mellow 

* Irving's " History of the Life and Voyages of Columbus." 
f " The Conquerors of the New World and their Bondsmen." 


night were always theirs ; the richest fruits hung 
around them, fishes of all shapes and hues swarmed in 
their waters, and for raiment, to use an Eastern expres- 
sion, * they were clothed with sunbeams.' "* 

Yet, as Prescott tells us, '' it is not easy at this time 
to comprehend the impulse given to Europe by the 
discovery of America. Tt was not the gradual acqui- 
sition of some border territory, a province or a kingdom 
that had been gained, but a new world that was now 
thrown open to the European. The races of animals, 
the mineral treasures, the vegetable forms, and the varied 
aspects of nature, man in the different phases of civili- 
zation, filled the mind with entirely new sets of ideas, 
that changed the habitual current of thought, and 
stimulated it to indefinite conjecture. The eagerness to 
explore the wonderful secrets of the new hemisphere 
became so active that the principal cities of Spain were 
in a manner depopulated, as emigrants thronged, one 
after another, to take their chance upon the deep. It was 
a world of romance that was thrown open ; for, what- 
ever might be the luck of the adventurer, his reports 
on his return were tinged with a colouring of romance 
that stimulated still higher the sensitive fancies of his 
countrymen, and nourished the chimerical sentiments 
of an age of chivalry. . . ." 

" The name of ' CastiUa del Oro,' Golden Castile, 
the most unhealthy and unprofitable region of the 
Isthmus, held out a bright promise to the unfortunate 
settler, who, too frequently, instead of gold, found 

* Warburton's " Darien." 


there only his grave. In this realm of enchantment 
all the accessories served to maintain the illusion. The 
simple natives, with their defenceless bodies and rude 
weapons, were no match for the European warrior armed 
to the teeth in mail. The odds were as great as those 
found in any legend of chivalry, where the lance of 
the good knight overturned hundreds at a touch.""^ 

*' There is a peculiar fascination in the account of 
such a doing as the discovery of America which can- 
not be done any more^ or anything like it — which 
stands alone in the doings of the world/'f 

"So early as 1496, the English, emulous of the mari- 
time glory recently acquired by Spain and Portugal, 
and indifferent to the Pope's charter of donation, 
fitted out an armament for discovery, which was con- 
ducted, under letters patent from Henry YIL, by John 
Cabot, a native of Venice, and his three sons, Sebastian, 
Lewis, and Sanctius. It appears to have been his 
object to seek for a western passage to the north of 
the new Spanish discoveries, and to reach Cathay, in 
India, by this route. In prosecution of this great 
scheme, Cabot, in 1497, discovered the American 
continent, probably at Newfoundland; and his son 
Sebastian, in two successive voyages, performed in 
1498 and 1517, explored a great extent of the 
coast from Hudson's Bay, on the north, as far as 
Virginia on the south. Although unsuccessful in the 
attainment of their immediate object, these voyages have 

* Prescott's ♦' Peru." 
t " The Conquerors of the New World and their Bondsmen." 


justly entitled the English to the high distinction of 
being the first discoverers of the American continent."* 

" It would seem to have been specially ordered by 
Providence that the discovery of the two great divi- 
sions of the American hemisphere should fall to the 
two races best fitted to conquer and colonize them. 
Thus, the northern section was consigned to the 
Anglo-Saxon race, whose orderly, industrious habits 
found an ample field for development under its colder 
skies and on its more rugged soil ; while the southern 
portion, with its rich tropical products and treasures 
of mineral wealth, held out the most attractive bait to 
invite the enterprise of the Spaniard. How difierent 
might have been the result if the bark of Columbus 
had taken a more northerly direction, as he at one 
time meditated, and landed its band of adventurers on 
the shores of what is now Protestant America !"t 

In the year 1500, Alonzo de Ojeda, an ofiicer who 
had accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, 
formed, with the assistance of the merchants of Seville, 
an expedition to America. He had a chart of the last 
voyage of Columbus, and traversed the coast of Paria 
— a considerable extent beyond where Columbus had 
then touched. On this expedition sailed Americus 
Yespucius, who, on his return, wrote that narrative 
of the voyages and discoveries which obtained for him 
the honour of giving his name to the New World. J 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History 
of tlie Bucaniers." 

t Prescott's " Peni." ^ 

I " View of South America and Mexico." New York, 1825. 


From the first discovery of the continent by Colum- 
bus, ten years had elapsed before the Spaniards had 
made a settlement in any part of it ; but about the 
year 1508 King Ferdinand resolved to found regular 
colonies. The king divided that part of the continent 
which lies along the Isthmus of Darien into two 
provinces, the boundary line running into the Gulf 
of Uraba. The eastern part, extending to Cape de la 
Vela, was called New Andalusia, and the government 
of it given to Ojeda ; the other, to the west, including 
Veragua and reaching to Cape Gracias a Dios, was 
assigned to Nicuesa, while the island of Jamaica was 
given to these governors in common, as a place whence 
to draw provisions. 

The settlers in the new colonies were directed to 
instruct the natives in Christianity and to inform them 
of the supreme jurisdiction of the Pope, and of the 
grant which he had made of their country to the king 
of Spain, and then to require them to embrace Christi- 
anity and to acknowledge the authority of the Spanish 
sovereign; and in case the natives did not comply ^l 
with these requirements, they were told it would be 
lawful to attack them with fire and sword, exterminate 
them, and reduce their wives and children to servitude, or 
compel them to acknowledge the authority of the 
Church and the Spanish monarch.* 

Having established the Papal power, the proclama- 
tion, used at the time, proceeds to inform the Indians 

* living's " Voyages and Discoveries of the Companions of Columbus." 
t " Yiew of South America and Mexico." 


how a certain Pope gave to the Catholic sovereign all 
these western islands and this western continent, as 
appears from certain writings which the Indians are 
told they may see if they like. Then they are told 
how well other islands who have had this notice have 
received his Majesty and obeyed him, listening without 
any resistance or delay to religious men, and becoming 
Christians, and how kind his Majesty has been to them. 
" Wherefore I entreat and require you," says Ojeda, or 
any other privateering discoverer, " that after taking 
due time to consider this, you acknowledge the Church 
as sovereign lady of the world, and the Pope in her 
name, and his Majesty, in his place, as lord of these 
isles and continent, and receive these religious men. 
If you do, his Majesty will greet you with all love and 
affection, and leave you your wives and children free, 
and will give you many privileges and exemptions. 
But if you do not, by the help of God I will enter with 
power into your land, and will subdue you, and will 
take your wives and children and make slaves of them, 
and sell them as such, and take all your goods, and do 
you all the mischief I can, as to vassals that do not 
obey and will not receive the lord. And I protest 
that all the death and destruction that may come from 
this is your fault, and not his Majesty's or mine, or that 
of my men."* 

Whenever this proclamation had no effect, and it 
was scarcely in the interests of the proclaimers that it 

* Form of Proclamation addressed to the Indians, quoted in " The Con- 
querors of the New World, and their Bondsmen." 



should have, new hostilities commenced, and those who 
were taken in war were branded and made slaves and 
the fifth part of them given to the king. * 

That infernal engine of hierarchal power, the Inquisi- 
tion, was established in America by the pious zeal of 
Philip II. in the year 1570, but the natives, from their 
incapacity, were exempted from the jurisdiction of this 
horrid tribunal, f 

"Atrocious as the spectacle of the autos de fe 
seems in a more humane and enlightened age, it was 
regarded by the ancient Spaniard as a sacrifice grateful 
to Heaven, at which he was to rekindle the dormant 
embers of his own religious sensibilities. 

" The cessation of iho^ long Moorish war by the fall 
of Granada, made the most important change in the 
condition of the Spaniards. They, however, found a 
vent for their chivalrous fanaticism in a crusade against 
the heathen of the New World." J 

How vastly difierent were all these proceedings 
to the intention of the humane Isabella, Queen of 
Castile, who, with the exception, in after years, of Las 
Casas, was perhaps the only true friend and protector 
the unhappy Indians met with amongst the Spanish 
nation. Las Casas was converted to the ^ cause of the 
Indians in the year 1515, and spent the remainder of 
his life in earnest, though often vain, endeavours to 
ameliorate their sufierings and better their condition. 

* " The Conquerors of the New World, and their Bondsmen." 
t " A View of South America and Mexico." 
ij: Prescott's " Life of PhiUp H." 


It would have been well for these now depopulated 
countries that he had been able to carry out the in- 
structions the queen left behind her. 

"Wherefore," says the will of Isabella, "I very 
affectionately supplicate my lord the king, and charge 
and command my said daughter (Juana) that they act 
accordingly, and that this (the conversion of the 
Indians) should be their principal end, and that in it 
they should have much diligence, and that they should 
not consent or give occasion, that the Indians who 
dwell on these islands or on Terra Firma gained, or to 
be gained, should receive any injury in their persons or 
goods, hut should command that they he well and justly 
treated. And if the Indians have received any injury, 
they (the king and her daughter Juana) should remedy 
it, and look that they do not infringe in any respect 
that which is enjoined and commanded in the words of 
the said concession (of the Pope)."* 

" If it be permitted to departing spirits to see those 
places on earth they yearn much after, we might 
imagine that the soul of Isabella would give ' one long 
lingering look ' to the far West. And if so, what did 
she see there? How different the aspect of things 
from aught she had thought of or commanded ! She 
said that the Indians were to be free : she would have 
seen them slaves. She had declared that they were to 
have spiritual instruction : she would have seen them 
less instructed than the dogs. She had insisted that 

* Will of Isabella, quoted in " The Conquerors of thie New World, and 
their Bondsmen." 

c 2 


they should receive pay : she would have found that all 
they received v^as a mockery of vy^ages, just enough to 
purchase once, perhaps, in the course of the year, some 
childish trifles from Castile. She had always ordered 
kind treatment and proper maintenance for them : she 
would have seen them literally watching under the tables 
of their masters to catch the crumbs which fell there. 
She would have beheld the Indian labouring at the mine 
under cruel buffetings, his family neglected, perishing, 
or enslaved ; she would have marked him on his return 
after eight months of dire toil, enter a place which 
knew him not, or a household that could only sorrow 
over the gaunt creature who had returned to them, 
and mingle their sorrows with his ; or, still more sad, 
she would have seen Indians, who had been brought 
from far distant homes, linger at the mines, too hope- 
less, or too careless, to return."* 

The destruction of Portobelo and Panama and other 
settlements of the Spaniards by the bucaniers, in after 
years, appears like the first retribution for the misery 
they inflicted on the poor Indians. But to proceed. 
In December, 1502, Columbus relinquished his search 
for the strait he had imagined, and determined to re- 
turn to the coast of Yeragua to search for mines, of 
which he had heard much, and seen so many indi- 
cations. " Here, then, ended the lofty anticipations 
which had elevated Columbus above all mercenary in- 
terests, which had made him regardless of hardship 
and perils, and given an heroic character to the early 

* " The Conquerors of the New World, and their Bondsmen." 


part of this voyage. It is true he had been in the 
pursuit of a mere chimera, but it was the chimera of a 
splendid imagination and a penetrating judgment. If 
he was disappointed in his expectation of finding a strait 
through the Isthmus of Darien, it was because nature 
herself had been disappointed, for she appears to have 
attempted to make one, but to have attempted it in 


vam. * 

"In attempting to discover a passage to Eastern 
India by the west, a short road to the gums and 
spices, the gold and gems of known and imaginary 
regions, Columbus had, as it were by accident, stum- 
bled upon America."! 

" The object of the great navigator was still the dis- 
covery of a route to India, but by the west instead of 
the east. He had no expectation of meeting with a 
continent in his way ; and after his repeated voyages 
he remained in his original eiTor, dying, as is well 
known, in the conviction that it was the eastern shore 
of Asia which he had reached." | 

How charming is the moral which Irving draws 
from the life of Columbus ! — " Let," he says, " those 
who are disposed to faint under difficulties in the pro- 
secution of any great and worthy undertaking, remem- 
ber that eighteen years elapsed after the time that 
Columbus conceived his enterprise, before he was en- 
abled to carry it into effect ; that the greater part of 

* Irving's " Life of Columbus." 

t " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and the 
History of the Bucaniers." 
X Prescott's " Peru." 


that time was passed in almost hopeless solicitation, 
amidst poverty, neglect, and taunting ridicule ; that 
the prime of his life had wasted away in the struggle, 
and that when his perseverance was finally crowned 
with success, he was about his fifty- sixth year. His 
example should encourage the enterprising never to 

Sufficient has been quoted in the preceding pages to 
remind the reader of the main incidents connected with 
the discovery of America. The voyages which were 
undertaken for the colonization of the Terra Firma, or 
the continent of South America, " were, for the most 
part, disjointed undertakings, often fruitless and dis- 
creditable to those engaged in them, and very unsatis- 
factory and difficult to relate. But they led to great 
changes in the world. They give a picture of Spanish 
enterprise during that period, and show it spreading 
over the New World like water finding its level; 
unhappily, however, not in force or quantity enough to 
form great navigable rivers or deep seas, but merely 
wide, stagnant, unhealthy marshes." f 

* Irving's " History of the Life and Voyages of Columbus." 
f " The Conquerors of the New World, and their Bondsmen." 

[ 23 ] 


Discovery of the Pacific. — Settlement at Darieii. — Introduction of Slavery. 
Indians of the Isthmus. — Attempted Colonization of Darien. — Scotch 
Expedition. — Old Panama. — Puerto Bello. — Chagres. — Drake's View of 
the Pacific. 

Passing on, then, from the great achievement of 
Columbus, we remember, too, how, a few years later, 
in 1513, an insolvent debtor from Hespaniola, Vasco 
Nunez de Balboa, with a handful of followers, settled 
at Darien, and carried forward the discoveries of the 
admiral, in a manner more eflficiently than any man 
who had yet succeeded him. It was Vasco Nunez 
who, having subdued or gained over several of the 
Indian chiefs, undertook and successfully carried out 
the then bold step of crossing the Isthmus which con- 
nects the continents of North and South America. At 
that time this was no easy undertaking, and we are 
told that it was only after twenty-five days of almost 
incredible hardship that he was rewarded on the 25th 
of September of that year by the glorious sight of the 
Pacific or Southern Ocean stretching in unlimited ex- 
tent before them. " Yasco Nunez bade his men sit 
down, while he alone ascended and looked down upon 
the vast Pacific, the first man of the Old World, so far 
as we know, who had done so. Falling on his knees, 
he gave thanks to God for the favour shown to him in 


his being the first man to discover and behold this 

sea. * 

"Our knowledge that the Pacific, which Vasco 
Nunez then beheld, occupies more than one- half of the 
earth's surface, is an element of thought which, in our 
minds, lightens up and gives awe to this first gaze of 
his upon those mighty waters." f And how strange 
was the manner of this man's coming ! 

"In the midst of Encisco's cargo, unknown to its 
owner, was a barrel containing no provisions, but a 
living man. His name was Yasco Nunez de Balboa, 
an adventurer, a skilful master of the art of fencing, 
who, as he was in debt, and as indebted people might 
not leave the island of Hispaniola without the permis- 
sion of the authorities, had secretly contrived to get 
into this barrel, and to form part of Encisco's stores." J 

The valorous Ojeda, the polished Nicuesa, and the 
flourishing lawyer Encisco, little dreamt that the con- 
duct of their enterprise was to devolve upon a man 
who should furtively come out in a cask, to evade his 
creditors. He had, however, most of the qualities 
necessary for a great commander in those times. He 
was clever, crafty, courageous, forward in enterprise, 
good-humoured, and handsome. § Such is the character 
we have of the discoverer of the Pacific. 

The first distinct intimation of the great Pacific 
Ocean was given to Yasco Nunez by a young cacique 
of Darien. Thirty leagues from Darien was a country 

* " The Conquerors of the New World, and their Bondsmen." 
t Ibid. X Ibid. § Ibid. 


called Comogra, situated on the sea coast, the cacique 
of which country was named Comogre. This chief 
being brought into friendly relations with the Spaniards, 
Yasco Nunez went with his men to visit him. The 
Spaniards were much surprised by the comfort and 
civiHzation which they found in this Indian chief's 
dwelling ; indeed, it was the most like a palace of any- 
thing that had been seen since the discovery of the 
Indies. Comogre gave his Spanish visitors a splendid 
welcome, and presented them with four thousand pesos 
of gold and seventy slaves. 

While the Spaniards were weighing out a fifth part 
of this gold, which belonged by right to the king, or 
dividing the residue amongst themselves, there arose, 
to use the words of an old translation of Peter Martyr, 
a " brabbling among the Spaniards about the divid- 
ing of the gold," when one of Comogre's sons seeing 
this miserable contention amongst the Spaniards, was 
disgusted at the clamour, and dashing with his hands 
the scales in which tlie gold was, and scattering it about, 
made the following speech: — "What is this. Chris- 
tians ? Is it for such a little thing that you quarrel ? 
If you have such a love of gold that, to get it, you 
disquiet and harass the peaceful nations of these lands, 
and suffering such labours, banish yourselves from your 
own lands, I will show you a country where you 
may fulfil your desires, but it is necessary for this that 
you should be more in number than you are now, for 
you would have to fight your way with great kings, 
and amongst them, in the first place, with King 


Tubanama, who abounds with this gold, and whose 
country is distant from our country six suns."* Then 
he signified to them by pointing with his finger, that 
this rich territory lay towards a sea, and southwards, 
which sea, he said, they would come to, passing over 
certain sierras, and where other nations had ships a 
little less in size than those of the Spaniards, navigated 
with sails and oars, and that traversing that sea, they 
would find a land of great riches, where the people had 
large vessels of gold, out of which they ate and drank, 
" where, indeed, there was more gold than there was 
iron in Biscay." This was the first notice of the 
Pacific, and also of Peru. It is likely that Pizarro was 
a bystander. After some little time had passed, Yasco 
NuAez resolved to be the discoverer of that sea, and of 
those rich lands to which Comogre's son had pointed. 
Accordingly, early in September, 1513, he set out on 
his renowned expedition for finding "the other sea," 
accompanied by a hundred and ninety men, well 
armed, and by dogs, which were of more avail than 
men (from the fear the Indians had of them), and by 
Indian slaves to carry the burthens. Making friends 
with some caciques and destroying others, the Spanish 
commander pursued his way up the most lofty sierras, 
until, on the 25th September, 1513, he came near to 
the top of a mountain, from whence the south sea was 
visible .f 

We can almost pardon Balboa his excess of enthu- 
siasm when he rushed into the sea knee deep, and took 

" The Conquerors of the New World, and their Bondsmen." f Ibid-. 

* u 


possession of it in the name of his sovereign. As the 
old Scotchman, in Eliot Warburton's pretty romance, 
says : — " But of a' the nninspired impressions, I think 
that Balboa, when first he saw the great southern 
ocean burst upon his sicht, maun hae had the most 
glorious vision — a vision of things that could no be 
uttered — a visible, vague, prophetic glory — a good that 
was to come upon the earth in latter days. Nae doot 
the avaricious auld trooper understood little eneugh 
what sublime sensation was swelling his mind, and 
thought it was all mere gold, gold, gold ! that fired his 
fancy with glorious images that he could na shape. 
But there was something grand, too, in how he hasted 
down to the new ocean, an rushed in till it, breast 
high, brandishin' his sword over his head, and shoutin' 
out, * Inhabitants of two hemispheres, Spaniards and 
Indians both, I call ye to witness that I take posses- 
sion of this part of the universe for the Crown of 
Castile. What my arm hath won for that crown, my 
sword shall defend ! ' and sae sure eneugh, for nearly 
two hundred years did the bluidy sword of Spain wave 
over those countries, and the arm of Spain oppress 
them sairly."* 

Darien was first settled as a colony about the year 
1510, when the Bachelor Eneas, one of the companions 
of Columbus, was in doubt and despondency as to 
where to bend his steps after the failure of the estab- 
lishment of a colony at San Sebastian. Vasco Nunez 
de Balboa, the absconding debtor, who had been smug- 

* Warburton's " Darien." 


gled on board in a cask, stepped forward to give his 
counsel, and by his advice the party proceeded and 
took possession of the Indian settlement of Darien, to 
which, in the fulfilment of a vow, Encisco gave the 
name of Santa Maria de la Antigua del Darien.* But 
it was not, in those days, all honour and glory for the 
settler ; for " certain it is," observes the venerable Las 
Casas, "the sufferings of the Spaniards in the New 
World in search of wealth, have been more cruel and 
severe than ever nation in the world endured." f " The 
perils that lay in the discoverer's path, and the suffer- 
ings he had to sustain, were scarcely inferior to those 
that beset the knight errant. Hunger, and thirst, and 
fatigue, the deadly effluvia of the morass, with its 
swarms of venomous insects, the cold of mountain 
snows, and the scorching sun of the tropics, these were 
the lot of every cavalier who came to seek his fortunes 
in the New World. It was the reality of romance. 
The life of the Spanish adventurer was one chapter 
more, and not the least remarkable, in the chronicles 
of knight errantry. J" 

And the lot of Vasco Nunez was no exception to the 
rule. He was rewarded for his great discovery, by the 
title, without the offices, of Adelantado of the South 
Sea^ and governor of Coyba, and of the then Indian 
settlement of Panama. But shortly afterwards he was 
beheaded at the caprice of his implacable old father-in- 
law, the new governor of Darien, who had been sent 
out to rule his colony. " Thus perished Vasco Nunez, 

* Irving's " Life of Columbus." t Ibid. J Prescott's " Peru." 


the man who, since the time of Columbus, had shown 
the most statesman-like and warrior-like powers in 
that part of the world." * 

Pedrarias Davila, his destroyer, was appointed 
Governor of Darien, July 27, 1513. It was a post 
much sought after ; and the news of the discovery of 
the Pacific, carried to Spain by messengers of Yasco 
Nunez, served to increase the importance of the 
appointment, and to increase the numbers of the new 
expedition, which accompanied the new governor. 
" All Spain was in a state of excitement at the idea of 
fishing up gold with nets." When the new governor 
arrived at Seville, he found no fewer, than two 
thousand young men eager to be enrolled in his 
forces, and " not a small number of avaricious old men, 
many of whom offered to go at their own expense."t 
" The governor himself has the character of having 
been a " suspicious, fiery, arbitrary old man." His 
treatment of Yasco Nunez, and his cruelty towards 
the unhappy Indians, certainly do not appear to have 
entitled him to be remembered by more amiable 
characteristics. His expedition was, however, hardly 
less fortunate than those of his predecessors. The 
situation of Darien was then, as now, very unhealthy, 
and the new comers not only suffered from the effects 
of the climate, but from those of sheer hunger. On 
disembarking, the provisions brought by the fleet had 
been divided amongst the men ; but the flour and the 

* " The Conquerors of the New World, and their Bondsmen." 
t Ibid. 


greatest part of the provisions were found to have 
been spoilt by the sea, " Men in silks and brocades 
absolutely perished of hunger, and might be seen 
feeding like cattle upon herbage. One of the prin- 
cipal hidalgos went through the streets saying that 
he was perishing of hunger, and in sight of the 
whole town dropt down dead. In less than a month 
seven hundred men perished."* 

The friendly Indian chiefs or caciques, who had 
been dutiful to Yasco Nunez, came with their gold 
to this new Spanish governor; but their people 
were harassed and made slaves, and their wives 
were carried off. The poor Indians suffered indeed 
unprecedented cruelties at the hands of Pedrarias 
and his captains, and the caciques were even burned 
alive when they did not, or could not, produce the 
amount of booty which the Spanish captains demanded. 
Pedrarias also fitted out expeditions to the South Sea 
to search for pearls, and great numbers of most 
valuable pearls were obtained even before the time 
of Pizarro's conquests in the Pacific.f This governor, 
Pedrarias, had the courage to take with him his wife, 
who was, we are told, the first European lady who 
landed at the Isthmus of Panama, or indeed on the 
coast of Spanish America. One writer remarks with 
much truth that she was a courageous woman. J Three- 
hundred and fifty years have elapsed since this lady 
landed at Darien ; and the European lady who even 

* " The Conquerors of the New World, and their Bondsmen." f Ibid. 
X " Lives of Balboa, Cortes, and Pizarro." Harper Brothers, New York. 


now went to settle where Dona Isabella de Boba- 
dilla settled, would, I think, be a courageous woman 

During the temporary amelioration in the sufferings 
of the Indians, which was brought about by Las Casas, 
under the regency of Cardinal Ximenes, the Jeronimite 
Fathers made some efforts to suppress the cruel policy 
of Pedrarias, the governor of Darien. "They wrote, in 
1517, to Pedrarias, of whose proceedings they seem to 
have been made well aware, ordering him to make no 
more expeditions, and to send an account of the gold 
and slaves which had been the fruit of his past 
enterprises. They went even much further, and desired 
that Pedrarias, taking into council the Bishop of 
Darien and some learned men, theologians and jurists, 
should examine whether those Indians whom his 
captains had brought back, were justly made slaves ; 
and if not, that they should be restored. These same 
learned men were also to make it a subject of inquiry 
whether these entries into the country were lawful."* 
With that inconsistency frequent in human conduct, 
while the sovereigns of Spain (in the year 1501) were 
making regulations for the relief of the Indians, they 
encouraged a gross invasion of the rights and welfare 
of another race of human beings. Among their various 
decrees on this occasion, we find the first trace of 
negro slavery in the New World. f 

" At the same time it was provided that no Jews, 

* " The Conquerors of the New World, and their Bondsmen." 
t Irving's " Life of Columbus." 


Moors, or new converts were to go to the Indies, or to 
be permitted to remain there ; but negro slaves * born 
in the power of Christians ' were to be allowed to pass 
to the Indies, and the officers of the royal revenue 
were to receive the money to be paid for their 
permits." * 

" It was permitted to carry to the colony negro slaves 
born among Christians, that is to say, slaves born in 
Seville and other parts of Spain, the children and 
descendants of natives brought from the Atlantic coast 
of Africa, where such traffic had for some time been 
carried on by the Spaniards and Portuguese." f " For 
in the year 1444, Europe may be said to have made a 
distinct beginning in the slave trade, henceforth to 
spread on all sides like the waves upon stirred water, 
and not like them to become fainter and fainter as the 
circles widen." t 

It was thus that negro slavery was introduced into 
the New World, and extended to the settlements of 
Terra Firma, where it continued to exist, until the 
independence in the year 1821, in New Granada. 
From this date the emancipation in New Granada was 
gradual but effective. All slaves born after 1821 were 
free by birth, but they owed their masters service in 
payment for their food and clothing until they attained 
the age of eighteen years, when they were set free — 
and in the year 1850, the government redeemed, by 

* " Herrera," quoted in *' The Conquerors of the New World, and their 

f Irving's " History of the Life and Voyages of Columhus." 
% " The Conquerors of the New World, and their Bondsmen." 


paying compensation to the owners, all those who had 
not at that time attained their freedom. There are now 
no slaves in New Granada. But with this early and 
repeated importation of negroes into the New World, 
and the cruel and wanton destruction of the Indians, 
it is easy to account for the colour and characteristics 
of the races which appear now to form the people of 
the Isthmus of Panama. 

'' The Indians who at present inhabit the Isthmus 
are said to amount to about ten thousand. They are 
scattered over Bocas del Toro, the northern portions 
of Yeraguas, the north-eastern shores of Panama, and 
almost the whole of Darien, and consist principally of 
four tribes, the Savanerics, the San Bias Indians, the 
Bayanos and the Cholas. Every tribe speaks a differ- 
ent language, and they not unfrequently wage war 
against each other. 

" The Savanerics occupy the northern portion of 
Veraguas, and appear to be most numerous in a dis- 
trict situated a few days' journey from the village of 
Las Palm as. One of their chiefs has adopted the 
pompous title of King Lora Montezuma, and pretends to 
be a descendant of the Mexican emperor. Almost every 
year he sends ambassadors to Santiago, the capital of 
Veraguas, to inform the authorities that he is the 
legitimate lord of the country, and that he protests 
against any assumption on the part of the New 
Granadian Government. Although no credit can be 
attached to the belief that King Lora is a descendant 
of the great Montezuma, yet there is reason to sup- 



pose, and future investigations may tend to corroborate 
the supposition, that his subjects are a distant branch 
of the great family of Anahuac. A direct intercourse 
still existed, at the time of the discovery, between the 
southern portions of the Mexican empire and Vera- 
guas. Little golden eagles, the national emblems of 
Mexico, are frequently met v^ith in the tombs of the 
district, and chocolate is still the prevalent drink. 
Such facts are indeed quite important enough in 
themselves to draw upon this tribe the attention of 
the ethnologist. Unfortunately, no European has as 
yet had time to study, and the Spanish inhabitants are 
too indolent, and, it may be added, too much preju- 
diced against the Indians, to be ever able to draw 
correct conclusions, or to make proper use of the rich 
ethnological materials scattered around them. 

The Manzanillo, or San Bias Indians, inhabit 
the north-eastern portion of the province of Panama. 
They occasionally visit Portobello and the neighbour- 
ing villages, and live almost in constant feud with 
the Bayanos. They are probably the same tribe 
which came in conflict with Columbus's crew during 
his fourth voyage of discovery, when, unlike most 
savages, they exhibited no fear at the discharge of 
cannon. The thunder of man probably appeared to 
them but insignificant when compared with the terrible 
tornadoes so frequently visiting their coast. All, 
however, must remain a matter of conjecture until we 
know more, or, to speak plainly, until we know 
something about them. At present our knowledge 


of this tribe is merely nominal, and of its language 
we are isrnorant. 

The Bajanos inhabit the district abont the river 
Chepo, and are a martial people, who, up to this time, 
have preserved then- independence, jealously guarding 
their territory against the white man. Their dislike 
to Spaniards and their descendants is intense, and 
strongl}^ contrasts with their friendly disposition 
towards the British — a feeling entertained since 
the days of Dampier and Wafer. Annually, British 
vessels touch at the northern coast for the purpose 
of trading, and it is probable from that source some 
of the Bayanos have obtained a smattering of English, 
Their cacique has frequently paid visits to the British 
representative at Panama, yet there the friendship 
ended ; the consul, on asking permission to show the 
same mark of attention to the chief, was told that no 
European was allowed to enter their country, and if 
the Consul should attempt such a journey, it would 
cost him his life.*" 

When in charge of Her Majesty's Consulate at 
Panama, I was myself once honoured with a visit of a 
party of three or four of these Indians. They 
remained seated at my house for about a couple of 
hours, but they entered into very little conversation, 
which was carried on in Spanish. They wore long 
hair, almost like a woman's, but had nothing else 
peculiar about their dress, being attired similarly to 
the people of the town, in cotton drawers and shirt. 

* Dr. Seemaii : " Voyage of H.M.S. Herald." 

I) 2 


One of these Indians, a ''chief," used frequently to 
visit Panama. A friend of mine established some 
sort of intimacy with him, and, on one occasion, 
presented him with a coat and a stick, on his departure 
for his native forests. A short ^^e afterwards, the 
presents were returned with a saoT message from the 
poor Indian, who had been degraded by the superior 
for his want of loyalty to his tribe, in having accepted 
even these trifling presents from the natural enemy, 
the white man. 

*' The Cholo Indians are one of the most diffused 
tribes of tropical America, extending, as they do, from 
the Gulf of San Miguel to the Bay of Choco, and 
thence, with few interruptions, to the northern parts 
of the republic of Ecuador. We can follow them 
all along the coast, from lat. 2° 0' to 8° 30' N., 
recognising them by their peculiar mode of rais- 
ing their habitations upon posts, six or eight feet 
above the ground. The fact that the Cholos have 
such a wide range, explains an historical puzzle. 
When reading of the discovery of Peru, how the 
Spaniards gradually pushed southwards along the 
shores of America, everywhere inquiring after the 
empire of the Incas, and even obtaining information of 
the city of Cuzco, we are at a loss to explain how the 
discoverers could understand the stories related to 
them, how the two parties could make themselves 
intelligible. Even the best historians have not 
explained this puzzle. But the fact that the same 
language is spoken from San Miguel, to the northern 


boundaries of Ecuador, where the Quichua commences, 
and that it was familiar to the Spaniards, before 
starting on their expedition, renders the proceeding 
intelligible. We now comprehend how the existence 
of the empire of the Incas could be known on the 
banks of Churchunque; how Balboa could receive 
intelligence of the Llama, and other productions of 
Peru, and how the barks of Pizano could collect 
information from the lips of natives who had never 
before beheld the face of a white man.* 

"The territory of the Tayronas is a mountainous 
valley bounded on all sides by ridges covered with 
perpetual snow, which rank among the highest in the 
world, being, according to the measurement made by 
me, 23,779 feet above the level of the sea. The only 
port is Santa Marta, or perhaps one or two inlets at 
the mouth of the rivers east of that city, and not far 
from it. .... . 

*' According to some writers, the Tayronas under- 
stood the art of smelting certain metals, and remains of 
their foundries have been seen in several places. The 
ornaments they wore were of gold, and coarsely 
executed ; but strangely enough, even at the present 
day, figures of reptiles made of debased gold are dug 
up near Santa Marta, and particularly Bonda, worked 
with the most exquisite minuteness and skill. The 
same excellent workmanship has been noticed in the 
images recently discovered in an ancient cemetery near 
Chiriqui ; and perhaps this coincidence may be regarded 

* Dr. Seemau : " Voyage of H.M.S. Herald." 


as a confirmation of the tradition that the dominion of 
the Tayronas, or some other nation of even remote 
antiquity, once extended from the Sierra Nevada to 
the Isthmus of Panama." * 

Eeaders of the history of the bucaniers will re- 
member that it was at the hands of certain of the 
Darien Indians that the famous and terrible French 
bucanier, Lolonnois, met a death worthy of his 
enormous crimes. By these Indians^ into whose hands 
he fell, and who were not unacquainted with the atro- 
cities of the bucaniers, he was torn alive limb from 
limb, his body consumed and the ashes scattered 
abroad, "to the intent," says his historian, "that no 
trace might remain of such an infamous creature." f 

The former rich mines of Darien have long since 
been abandoned to the untamable Indians, to whom 
this tract of country has been left, and who have never 
been reduced to subjection by any government. 

Some account of the former mines of Darien will be 
found in page 333, in an extract of a " Report of the 
Physical and Political Geography of Panama." 

In reference to the colonization of Darien, we learn 
that the archbishop Gongora, after having been named 
viceroy of New Granada in the year 1777, made several 
attempts to colonize the inhospitable shores of Darien. 
He was the first Spanish chief in New Granada who 

* Extract from " Keport on the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta," by John 
May, C.E. ; quoted in " New Granada ; its Internal Eesources," by John 

t " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and the 
Historj^ of the Bucaniers." 


relaxed the severe prohibitions that existed rela- 
tive to treating with foreigners. Having formed the 
idea of providing provisions, munitions of war, and even 
colonists from the foreign colonies, he sent commis- 
sioners to different points. Three went to Jamaica^ 
others to Curacao, and to the United States of America. 
These were to procure provisions of foreign flour, 
which they obtained in abundance = They were also 
instructed to solicit families of colonists for the new 
establishments at Darien. About 150 families were 
in this manner obtained about the year 1783, and 
copveyed to those deserted, inhospitable and unhealthy 
coasts. But almost all of them, together with many 
others, from Carthagena, Santa Marta, and Panama, 
became victims to the unhealthiness of the climate, 
and to the hatred of the Indians. Thus little or no 
advance was made in the colonization of Darien at 
this time, although more than a million of dollars 
were expended in the attempt, and a multitude of 
lives sacrificed ; among these were the greater part of 
a regiment sent from Spain for the conquest of Darien 
in 1785. 

Gongora's successor had hardly taken office in 1789, 
when he reported, to the court at Madrid, unfavourably 
of the establishments at Darien, which he depicted as 
ruinous alike to the population and interests of the 
kingdom. His project of abandoning them was ap- 
proved by the Spanish ministry, the houses were 
burned down, and the population was withdrawn, and 
those of the foreign colonists who remained alive were 


sent, if they requested it, back to their previous domi- 
ciles. Even Caiman, which it was at first intended to 
preserve, was abandoned in 1791, from the want of 
resources and from the inconvenience of sending 
troops to defend it from the warlike Indians by which 
it was surrounded. Thus only remained the memory 
of those establishments which had cost such enormous 
sums, and so many lives and cares." * 

But to keep to our narrative. 

It was, as I have said, when intelligence of Balboa's 
success reached Spain, that the king sent out a new 
expedition with a new governor for Darien, who ulti- 
mately perceiving the unsuitableness of the locality for 
prosecuting further voyages of discovery, and the ex- 
peditions on the Pacific, which were then contemplated, 
procured permission in 1519 to remove the colony to 
Panama, with the additional object of obtaining a 
better climate than that of Darien; and here, at an 
Indian village called Panama, was formed the first 
Spanish city in the South Sea. 

Darien became familiar to English ears from the 
scheme of Paterson, the founder of the Bank of Eng- 
land, who projected that expedition which in the year 
1698 started for Darien with upwards of a thousand 
emigrants, stout hearts from old Scotland; but of 
which, after one short year, only thirty of the lusty 
adventurers survived to land at Charleston, in America, 
to tell the sad tale of their failure. " Then went forth 
our Scots, pioneers of a new power, that, though quelled 

* Restrepo's " Historia de Colombia." 


for a time, will yet rule those glorious countries wi' 
righteous justice and gospel law." * 

Paterson thought, or perhaps hoped, to realize in 
those days on the isthmus that which in our time has 
only in part been brought about at Panama. The con- 
sumption of European produce was to be doubled, trade 
was to increase trade, money to beget money, " and 
the trading world to need not more work for its hands, 
but more hands for its work." " The Indians, original 
proprietors of the soil, were to welcome to their fertile 
shores the honest and honourable settler." f 

Darien was, however, occupied for several years as a 
rendezvous for the naval and military forces sent out 
to the new possessions and as a temporary deposit for 
the riches accumulated, and was also for some time the 
head-quarters of the Church authorities, established in 
the new world. J 

The settlement at Panama, on the western coast of 
the Isthmus of Darien, greatly facilitated the plans of 
adventurers in that quarter, and became, in some mea- 
sure, the parent of most of the early settlements on 
the coast of the Southern Ocean. But their original 
city, founded after the discovery of the Pacific by 
Balboa, was doomed to but a short life. It was 
destroyed by fire when taken by the bucaniers under 
Morgan, in the year 1671 — of which an account will 
be found in the pages which foUow. 

But aU writers agree with Prescott, or rather Pres- 

* Warburton's Darien. f Ibid. 

J " A View of South America and Mexico." 


cott agrees with them, that the new location of the 
early colony contributed greatly to the subsequent dis- 
coveries and conquests of Spain in the Pacific, while 
the port of Panama, "from its central position, afforded 
the best point of departure for expeditions, whether to 
the north or south, along the wide range of undis- 
covered coast that lined the Southern Ocean." * 

After the death of Yasco Nunez, the colony of 
Darien continued to extend their knowledge of the 
Pacific, while, in addition to the gold of the coast, the 
Spaniards exacted from the conquered Indians of the 
Pearl Islands annual tribute in pearls. As the hope 
of reaching the Oriental Spice Islands by a passage 
through a strait decayed, the design was formed of 
establishing a regular intercourse across the Isthmus, 
and an entrepot between the Old and the New World ; 
and the settlement was formed at Panama, from whence 
vessels were to visit those eastern isles. f 

But the ancient site of Panama was doubtless "a 
most unhealthy spot, and proved to be the cemetery 
of many an unfortunate colonist, "J though it was 
still somewhat better in this respect than Darien. § 

It was at Panama, in 1 5:24, that Francisco Pizarro, the 
conqueror of Peru, who was one of the earliest settlers 
at Darien, in company with Diego de Almagro, a soldier 
of fortune, and a priest named Hernando Luque, the 

* Prescott's " Peru." 

f " Lives and Vo3^ages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." J Prescott's " Peru." 

§ The city of Panama was granted a royal charter by Charles V. in 1521, 
with the title of " Very noble and very loyal." 


vicar of Panama, formed that expedition which was 
the forerunner of the rich and magnificent conquests of 
South America. 

Pizzaro sailed in the service of Alonzo de Ojeda 
from San Domingo on the 10th November, 1509, and 
proceeded to Oarthagena. He was afterwards left in 
command at San Sebastian as lieutenant of Ojeda. 
He subsequently proceeded to Darien, and thence to 
Panama, from which place he was enabled to form his 
expedition to Peru.* 

For years after the conquest of Peru, the entire 
commerce of the southern colonies was carried on by 
way of the Isthmus. The annual fleet of galleons from 
Spain proceeded regularly to Portobelo, or Puertobello, 
the then chief Atlantic port of the Isthmus, and the 
mart of all the rich commerce of the newly-discovered 
coasts of Chili and Peru. Here the valuable produce 
of the mines, and other articles which those wealthy 
countries afibrded for exportation, were bartered for 
the rich cargoes of the galleons. On the arrival of the 
galleons and the merchants from Peru and the pro- 
vinces, a fair was held at Portobelo, which lasted about 
forty days, and during which the commercial transac- 
tions took place. The transit of the Isthmus in those 
days was made in part by mules, and in part by means 
of the river Chagres.f 

It was on the 2nd November, 1502, that the squa- 
dron of Columbus, after exploring Costa Rica and 

* Irving's " Life of Columbus and Companions." 
t *' A View of Spanish America and Mexico." 


Veragua, "anchored in a spacious and commodious 
harbour, where the vessels could approach close to the 
shore without danger. It was surrounded by an 
elevated country, open and cultivated, with houses 
within bow-shot of each other, surrounded by fruit trees, 
and groves of palms, and fields producing maize, vege- 
tables, and the delicious pine-apple, so that the whole 
neighbourhood had the mingled appearance of orchard 
and garden. Columbus was so pleased with the excel- 
lence of the harbour and the sweetness of the surround- 
ing country that he gave it the name of Puerto Bello. 
It is one of the few places along this coast which retain 
the appellation given by the illustrious discoverer. 
It is to be regretted that they have so generally been 
discontinued, as they were the records of his feelings 
and of circumstances attending the discovery.* 

Portobelo, as it is now spelt, lies in lat. 9 "34 N., 
long. 79*44 W. The town was not commenced until 
the reign of Philip II. ; but soon after its foundation, 
it became of importance by being made the port through 
which the trade with Spain and Western America was 
carried on, and by the great annual fair held there. 
Portobelo was looked upon with envy by other nations, 
and sufiered frequent attacks — the first time by Sir 
Francis Drake, in 1595, during the wars between 
Philip II. of Spain and Elizabeth of England.f 

It was here that Sir Francis Drake died of a linger- 
ing fever, brought on by the disappointment which had 

* Irving's " Life of Columbus." 
t Pirn's " Gate of the Pacific." 


attended his later enterprises, under which he hngered 
for three weeks. He expired, while his fleet lay off 
Portobelo, on the 28th January, 1596, in his fifty -first 
year, and here his remains were committed to the deep. 
In 1668 Portobelo was plundered of vast riches and 
partially destroyed by the English bucanier, Morgan, 
who subsequently destroyed Panama, and afterwards 
obtained from Charles II. the honour of knighthood, 
and became deputy-governor of Jamaica. 

With nine ships and boats, and four hundred and sixty 
of his countrymen, Morgan resolved to assault Porto- 
belo. The first fort or castle was deliberately blown 
up, by fire being set to the powder magazine, after 
many miserable prisoners, whose mangled limbs soon 
darkened the air, had been huddled into one room. 
Eesistance was still attempted by the Spaniards, which 
greatly exasperated the besiegers, as it was into the 
forts which held out that the wealthy inhabitants had 
retired with their treasures and valuables. One strong 
fort it was necessary to carry without delay, and, broad 
scahng-ladders being constructed, Morgan compelled 
his prisoners to fix them to the walls. Many of those 
employed in this of&ce were priests and nuns, dragged 
for this purpose from the cloisters. These, it was 
thought, their countrymen would spare ; while, under 
their protection, the bucaniers might advance without 
being exposed to the fire of the castle. In these trying 
circumstances, forgetting the claims of country and the 
sacred character of the innocent persons exposed to 
suffering so unmerited, the Spanish governor consulted 


only his official duty ; and, while the unhappy prisoners 
of the bucaniers implored his mercy, continued to pour 
shot upon all who approached the walls, whether pirates 
or the late peaceful inhabitants of the cloisters, his 
stern answer being that he would never surrender 
alive. Many of the friars and nuns were killed before 
the scaling-ladders could be fixed ; but, that done, the 
bucaniers, carrying with them fire-balls and pots full 
of gunpowder^ boldly mounted the walls, poured in 
their combustibles and speedily efiected an entrance. 
All the Spaniards demanded quarter, except the 
governor, who died fighting in presence of his wife 
and daughter, declaring that he chose rather to die as 
a brave soldier, than be hanged as a coward. The 
next act in the horrid drama of bucaniering conquest 
followed rapidly — pillage, cruelty, brutal license, — the 
freebooters giving themselves up to so mad a course of 
riot and debauchery, that fifty resolute men might 
have cut them ofi" and regained the town, had the 
panic-struck Spaniards been able to form any rational 
plan of action, or to muster a force. 

During these fifteen days of demoniacal revel, inter- 
rupted only by torturing the prisoners to make them 
give up treasures which they did not possess, many of 
the bucaniers died from the consequences of their 
own brutal excesses, and Morgan deemed it expedient 
to draw ofi" his force. 

Information had by this time reached the Grovernor 
of Panama; and although aid was distant from the 
miserable inhabitants of Portobelo, it might still come. 


Morgan, therefore, carried off a good many of the guns, 
spiked the rest, fully supplied his ship with every 
necessary store, and having already plundered all that 
was possible, insolently demanded an exorbitant ransom 
for the preservation of the city, and for his prisoners, 
and prepared to depart from the coast. These terms 
he even sent to the Governor of Panama, who was 
approaching the place, and whose force the bucaniers 
intercepted in a narrow pass, and compelled to retreat. 
The inhabitants collected among themselves a hundred 
thousand pieces of eight, which Morgan graciously 
accepted and retired to his ships. 

The astonishment of the Governor of Panama, at so 
small a force carrying the town and the forts, and 
hold big them so long, induced him, it is said, to send 
a message to the bucanier leader, requesting a speci- 
men of the arms which he used. Morgan received the 
messenger with civility, gave him a pistol and a few 
bullets, and ordered him to bid the president to accept 
of so slender a pattern of the weapons with which he 
had taken Portobelo, and to keep it for a twelvemonth, 
at the end of which time he (Morgan) proposed to 
come to Panama to fetch it away. The Governor re- 
turned the loan with a gold ring, and requested Morgan 
mot to give himself the trouble of travelling so far, 
certifying to him that he would not fare so well as he 
had done at Portobelo. On this subject Morgan 
formed and afterwards acted upon his own opinions.* 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendisk, and Dampier, and History 
of the Buca.niers," 


Don Perez de Guzman, then Governor of Panama, had 
on several occasions sent assistance to the beleaguered 
towns, but little success however, attended his arms."^ 

On the declaration of war with Spain by England, 
in the reign of George II., Admiral Sir Edward Vernon 
commenced the attack on the Spanish colonies, by 
taking Portobelo, On the 5th November, 1740, the 
troops from the admiral's squadron were disembarked, 
the forts were taken, and the town capitulated. But 
this conquest produced less than was anticipated ; most 
of the riches and effects of value had been previously 
removed, together with the ships ; only three small 
vessels, and about three thousand dollars in treasure, 
fell into the hands of the captors. 

It was considered by the Spanish government that 
Portobelo should not have surrendered to ^the small 
force under Admiral Vernon, and the Governor of the 
place was tried by court-martial for his proceeding. 
The attack of Portobelo was only the prelude to the 
operation which Great Britain meditated against the 
Spanish colonies. In March of the following year, the 
more important attack of Carthagena was made.f 

In the year 1819 an expedition was prepared in 
England which was said to be destined to free New 
Granada from the Spanish yoke. It was originated 
chiefly by General M'Gregor, who had previously 
served in New Granada and Venezuela, 

* " Tropical Wanderings by Oran," in " Harper's Magazine." Sept., 

t Restrepo's " Historia de Colombia." 


Four hundred and seventeen soldiers were recruited 
in the United Kingdom, and were conveyed in two 
merchant vessels, convoyed by an armed brigantine 
first to Haiti, and thence to Portobelo. With the 
preparation which M'Gregor had also made in Haiti, 
he appeared in Portobelo with Rve vessels, including 
an armed launch. Disembarking his forces, he took 
possession of the port on the 8th April, after a feeble 
resistance from the Spanish garrison, which com- 
prised only ninety men : this important port was, 
twenty-one days afterwards, retaken by the Spanish 
forces from Panama. The English who were then 
made prisoners were conveyed to Panama, twelve of 
the officers were sent to Darien, from whence they 
afterwards returned to Panama, and ten of them were 
shot. The other prisoners were condemned to labour 
in the public roads of Panama and Portobelo, hardly a 
less cruel fate ! At Portobelo the Grovernor, Santa Cruz, 
subjected a hundred who were committed to his 
tender mercies to such barbarous treatment that they 
were quickly sacrificed, much to the delight of their 
executioner, who w^ote to the general commanding at 
Panama, " that if he wished to get quickly rid of his 
prisoners, he should send them to Portobelo." In 
Panama cruel Spaniards were also not wanting. The 
hard labour, damp prisons, malaria and scarce food, 
carried nearly all the unhappy English prisoners to 
the grave; so that when an order was received at 
Panama for them to be set at liberty, after the 
Spaniards had compelled Ferdinand VII. in 1820 to 



proclaim the constitution of the Cortes at Cadiz, hardly 
forty half-dead men remained, of which number 
several died previously to their arrival at Chagres, 
where they were to embark for their native country. 
To such fate as this were exposed the British legion 
who left their homes to fight in the cause of South 
American independence.* 

Portobelo, which once contained two castles, nearly 
two hundred houses, and eight thousand inhabitants, 
is now abandoned. " After the war of independence, 
the traffic was conducted by way of Chagres, which, 
though not a regular harbour, has some advantages 
over Portobelo." f It is not probable that this once 
important port will ever arise again to a position any- 
thing like that which it formerly enjoyed, although it 
was lately proposed by one of the senators from 
Panama that a condition of the extension of the 
privilege of the present railway contract by the 
Government of New Granada, should be the establish- 
ment of a second line of railway across the Isthmus from 
the north of the city of Portobelo, but with what object 
or particular advantage to the State it does not appear. 
From the time that Portobelo was abandoned, 
Chagres, for several years, continued to be the ingress 
port to the Isthmus of Panama, by which all manufac- 
tures were then introduced and imported. But the en- 
trance to this port was, and is still, impeded by a narrow 
and shallow bar over which vessels of great draught of 

* Eestrepo's " Historia de Colombia." 
t Pirn's " Gate of the Pacific." 

CHAaRES. 51 

water could not pass. ''The town of Chagres like 
Portobelo, is one of the most miserable and unhealthy 
in the country ; it lies at the mouth of the river of 
the same name, in lat. 9°. 18' 6 N., long. 79°. 59' 2" 
W. and is guarded by the castle of Lorenzo, a dark 
looking fortification. This castle is situated on a high 
rock at the entrance of the river, and was destroyed in 
1671 by Henry Morgan, but a few years after was 
rebuilt by the Spaniards."* The distance between 
Chagres and Portobelo is about twelve leagues. The 
town of Chagres, Hke its predecessor Portobelo, has 
been almost abandoned since the establishment of the 
rivals of both, Colon. It contains now hardly a thou- 
sand inhabitants, if so many — nearly all of whom are 
negroes, and Indians — and, like Portobelo it is doomed 
to rise no more. 

But up to the time of the establishment of Navy 
Bay as the Atlantic port of the Isthmus, the port of 
Chagres was still used. In the month of November, 
1851, two large steamers, which had proceeded to 
Chagres for the purpose of landing their passengers, 
were driven by tempestuous weather to take refuge 
in the harbour of Navy Bay ; and from about this time 
the port of Chagres was abandoned for that of Colon. 
Dr. Autenrieth, speaking of it at the time that it was 
the port for the Isthmus passengers says : " Chagres 
is, as abeady stated, an unhealthy place, but it cannot 
be denied that a great deal of the sickness prevailing 
here must be ascribed to the terribly bad food every 

* Pirn's " Gate of the Pacific." 

E 2 


one is compelled to eat. It is surprising that a place 
connected with the United States by almost weekly 
steam communication, should be devoid not only of all 
comfort but even of necessary and digestible food. It 
is therefore no wonder that with the help of a bad 
climate, sickness is prevalent, and that nearly every 
one who stays there any considerable time, is attacked 
by the so-called Chagres fever — a marsh fever 
certainly of no bad character, but generally compH- 
cated, and difficult to manage. Let a man live in the 
healthiest place in the world, as he is compelled to 
live in Chagres, and some disease or other will attack 
him. The port of Chagres is not worth much, the 
channel is narrow, and only fit for vessels which do 
not draw over eleven or twelve feet ; there is, besides, 
danger from a rock which runs out from the castle to 
some distance." * This was Chagres in its palmy 
days of Isthmus travel. Another of the Atlantic 
ports of the Isthmus to which some historical interest 
is attached is Nombre de Dios — a place interesting to 
Englishmen from the adventure of Captain Drake. 

In the year 1572, Francis Drake, who was stimu- 
lated to action by the conduct of the Spaniards and 
the treachery which he had received at their hands 
when commanding the ' Judith,' under Hawkins, and 
with that love of adventure which characterized him 
and others, in the reign of Elizabeth — landed a party 
of men at the port of Nombre de Dios. The town 
was at that time, what Portobelo afterwards became, 

* " A Few Words to the Traveller," by Dr. Autenrieth. New York. 


the entrepot between the commodities and the wealth 
of the new colonies. Here, from information ob- 
tained from a tribe of Indians, who lived in hos- 
tility to the Spaniards, he resolved to intercept the 
mules employed to carry treasure from Panama to 
Nombre de Dios. And it was on this expedition 
across the Isthmus, that Drake first saw the Pacific, 
and received that inspiration, which, in the words of 
CaUebdere, 'left him no rest in his own mind until 
he had accomplished his purpose of saihng an English 
ship in those seas.* 

" The early records of maritime enterprise relate no 
incident more striking than the adventure of Captain 
Francis Drake, forcing his way across the Isthmus of 
Darien, and ascending that goodly and great high 
tree, from whence he could look back upon the shores 
of the Atlantic, where his ship lay, and forward, in 
the distance, descry that new and mighty ocean, the 
subject of so many golden dreams and ambitious 
hopes. When we read that in the enthusiasm of that 
moment, Drake lifted up his hands 'and besought 
Almighty God of his goodness to give him life and 
leave to sail once an English ship upon that sea,' 
time and space are forgotten, as we unconsciously 
breathe ' Amen ' to a prayer so gloriously fulfilled. 

'' Though the previous voyages of Magellan and his 
successors deny Sir Francis Drake the honour of being 
the first navigator in the South Seas, he was not only 

* '* Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." 


the first Englishman that traversed a large portion of 
the Pacific in its length and breadth, and circum- 
navigated the terraqueous globe, but an eminent and 
successful discoverer in the most brilliant era of 
maritime adventure." * 

And now we come to the destruction of Panamd by- 
Henry Morgan, the famous buccaneer or bucanier.f 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History of 
tlie Bucaniers." 

t The term was adopted from the Carib Indians, who called the flesh 
which they prepared Boucan. — History of the Bucaniers. 

[ 55 3 


Destruction of Old Panamd, — Foundation of the present city. — Spanish 
policy in the Colonies. — ^The new city of Panamd. 

"The bucaniers owe their origin to the monopoliz- 
ing spirit and selfish and jealous policy with which 
Spain administered the affairs of her West India 
colonies. Early in the sixteenth century, both 
English and French ships bound on trafficking 
adventures had found their way to these settlements ; 
but it was not tiU after the enterprises of Drake, 
Ealeigh, and Cumberland, that they became frequent. 
The jealousy of Spain had been alarmed by their first 
appearance ; and the adoption of that system of 
offensive interference with the vessels of every nation 
that ventured near the tropic soon gave rise to 
the well-known maxim of the bucaniers ' no peace 
beyond the Line.'* 

" It was step by step that the narrow policy of the 
Spaniards raised up those predatory hordes haunting 
the ocean and the coasts, which, from infringing their 
absurd commercial laws, or shooting a wild bullock 
in the forests, came at last continually to infest their 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History of 
the Bucaniers." 


trade and to destroy and pillage their richest settle- 

" The first remarkable exploits of the bucaniers at sea 
were performed by the French, and among their first 
brilliant exploits which led the way to many others, 
was the capture in 1655, of a richly-laden gajleon, 
vice-admiral of the yearly Spanish fleet. This was 
achieved by Pierre Legrand a native of Dieppe, who 
by one bold stroke gained fame and fortune. 

" The enterprise by which Pierre Legrand had in one 
night gained fame and fortune, was a signal for half 
the hunters and planters of Tortuga, the French 
settlement, to rush to sea. Campeachy, and even the 
shores of New Spain, were now within their extended 
range of cruising, and their expeditions became daily 
more distant and bold. The Spaniards found it 
necessary to arm ships to protect the coast trade as 
well as the galleons and flota. The Indian fleet and 
the treasure ships were always the especial mark of the 
pirates who found no species of goods so convenient 
either for transport or division as pieces of eight, f 

The destruction of the city of Panama by the 
bucaniers under Morgan, in 1671, was an achieve- 
ment which exceeded all that had hitherto been done 
by the sea rovers. 

The bucanier fleet for this undertaking consisted 
of thirty-seven vessels, fully provisioned. The fighting 
men amounted to 2,000. Panama was selected as the 

* "Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History of 
the Bucaniers." t Ihid. 


place of attack, in preference to Vera Cruz and Car- 
thagena, which were deliberated upon by the bucanier 
council, from extravagant notions entertained in Europe 
and the West Indies of its amazing wealth, and of the 
great riches of Peru. 

From the conveniently situated Island of Provi- 
dence, Morgan detached a force of 400 men to attack 
the Castle of Chagres, the possession of which he 
judged necessary to the success of his future opera- 
tions against Panama. It was eventually carried by 
the accident of fire communicating with the powder 
magazine, which blew up the defences. Of the garri- 
son of 314 men, only 30 were taken alive, and of these 
few 20 were wounded. Not a single officer escaped.* 

"From the survivors of the siege, the bucanier party 
learned that the Governor of Panama was already 
apprized of their design against that place; that all 
along the course of the Eiver Chagres ambuscades 
were laid, and that a force of 3,600 men awaited their 
arrival. But this did not deter Morgan, who pressed 
forward for Chagres the instant that he received intel- 
ligence of the capture of the castle. 

'^The English colours flpng upon the Castle of 
Chagres was a sight of joy to the main body of the 
bucaniers upon their arrival. Morgan was admitted 
into the fort by the triumphant advanced troops, with 
all the honours of conquest. Before his arrival, the 
wounded, the widows of the soldiers killed in the siege, 

* "Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." 


and other women of the place, had been shut up in 
the church, and subjected to the most brutal treatment. 
To their fate Morgan was entirely callous, but he lost 
no time in setting the prisoners to work in repairing 
the defences, &c. These arrangements concluded, 
Morgan left a garrison of 500 men in the Castle of 
Chagres, and in the ships 150, while at the head of 
1200 bucaniers he, on the 18th Ja,nuary^ 1671, com- 
menced his inland voyage to Panama, indifferent about^ 
or determined to brave, the Spanish ambuscades."* 
Their progress was continued alternately by land and 
by water, and was attended with great inconvenience 
and hardships, want of provisions being amongst the 
number. '^ So extremely were they pinched with hun- 
ger, that the leather bags found at a deserted Spanish 
station, formed a delicious meal. About this delicacy 
they even quarrelled, and, it is said, openly regretted 
that no Spaniards were found, as, failing provisions, 
they had resolved to have roasted or boiled a few of the 
enemy, to satisfy their ravening appetites. "f 

" At a village called Cruces, perceiving from a dis- 
tance a great smoke, they joyfully promised themselves 
rest and refreshments, but on reaching it, found it 
abandoned and in flames. The only animals remain- 
ing, the dogs and cats of the village, fell an imme- 
diate sacrifice to the wolfish hunger of the buca- 
niers. J 

'' On the morning of the ninth day of the march, 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." f Ibid. % Ibid. 


from a high mountain, the majestic South Sea was 
joyfully descried, with ships and boats sailing upon its 
bosom, and peacefully setting out from the concealed 
port of Panama. Herds of cattle, horses, and mules, 
feeding in the valley below the eminence on which 
they stood formed a sight not less welcome. They 
rushed to the feast and, cutting up the animals 
devoured the flesh half raw, " more resembling 
cannibals than Europeans at this banquet."* This 
savage meal ended, the journey was resumed, and on 
the evening of the same day the steeple of Panama 
was beheld at a distance. The bucaniers, forgetting 
all their sufferings, gave way to the most rapturous 
exultation, tossing their caps into the air, leaping, 
shouting, beating drums, and sounding trumpets, at 
the sight of so glorious a plunder. They encamped 
for the night near the city, intending to make the 
assault early in the morning. The governor of 
Panama, who led the forces, commanded two hundred 
cavalry, and four regiments of infantry, and a 
number of Indian auxiliaries, conducted an immense 
herd of wild bulls to be driven among the ranks of 
the bucaniers, and which were expected to throw 
them into disorder. 

" After a contest of two hours, the Spanish cavalry 
gave way, many were killed, and the rest fled, which 
the foot soldiers perceiving, they fired their last 
charge, threw down their muskets, and followed the 
example of the cavaliers." f 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." f Ibid. 


" After the rout which had taken place in the open 
field, the bucaniers rested for a Kttle space, and 
during this pause solemnly plighted their honour by 
oaths to each other never to yield while a single man 
remaining alive. This done, carrying their prisoners 
with them, they advanced upon the great guns planted 
in the streets and the hasty defences thrown up 
to defend them, and the town was gained after a 
desperate conflict of two hours maintained in its 
open streets. 

"In this assault the bucaniers neither gave nor 
accepted quarter, and the carnage on both sides was 
great; six hundred Spaniards fell on that day; nor 
was the number of the bucaniers who perished 
much less ; but to those who survived a double share 
of plunder was at all times ample consolation for the 
loss of companions whose services were no longer 
required in its acquisition."* 

" As soon as the possession of the city was gained, 
guards were placed, and at the same time fires broke 
out simultaneously in different quarters, which were 
attributed by the Spaniards to the pirates, and by 
them to the inhabitants. Both assisted in endeavour- 
ing to extinguish the dreadful conflagration which 
raged with fury, but the houses, being built of cedar, 
caught the flames like tinder and were consumed in a 
very short time. The inhabitants had previously 
removed and concealed the most valuable part of their 
goods and furniture."t 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." f Ibid. 


" The concealment of the church plate drew upon 
the ecclesiastics the peculiar vengeance of the heretical 
bucaniers, who, however, spared no one. The confla- 
gration which they could not arrest, they seemed at 
last to take a savage delight in spreading. A slave 
factory belonging to the Genoese was burned to the 
ground, together with many warehouses stored with 
meal. Many of the miserable Africans whom the 
Genoese brought for sale to Peru, perished in the 
flames which raged or smouldered for nearly four 
weeks."* '' The property which the Spaniards had 
concealed in deep wells and cisterns was nearly all 
discovered, and the most active of the bucaniers 
were sent out to the woods and heights to search for, 
and drive back the miserable inhabitants who had fled 
from the city with their effects. In two days they 
brought in about two hundred of the fugitives as 
prisoners. Of these unhappy persons, many were 
females, who found the merciless bucaniers no better 
than their fears had painted them." 

The Spanish colonists of South America had a 
twofold reason for detesting the bucaniers. They 
were English heretics, as well as lawless miscreants 
capable of the foulest crimes. And it is not easy to say 
whether, in the idea of the indolent, uninstructed, 
priest-ridden inhabitants of Panajna, Portobelo, and 
Carthagena, they were not as hateful and alarming in 
the first character as in the last. A Spanish lady, 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." 


one of his prisoners, with whom Morgan, the bucanier 
commander, fell in love, is described as believing, till 
she saw them, that the freebooters were not men, but 
some sort of monsters named heretics, " who did 
neither invoke the blessed Trinity, nor believe in 
Jesus Christ." The civilities of Captain Morgan 
inclined her to better thoughts of his faith and 
Christianity, especially as she heard him frequently 
swear by sacred names. It is clear that the heretic 
was as great a curiosity, if not a more trucculent 
monster than the bucanier. Another lady, of 
Panama was curious to see the extraordinary animals 
called bucaniers, and the first time after she had that 
happiness, exclaimed aloud, '' Jesu bless me ! these 
thieves are like unto us Spaniards."* 

" In plundering the land, Morgan had not forgotten 
the sea. By sea many of the principal inhabitants 
had escaped, and a boat was sent in pursuit, which 
brought back three prizes, though a galleon in which 
was embarked all the plate and jewels belonging to 
the king of Spain, and the wealth of the principal 
nunnery of the town escaped, from the bucaniers 
indulging in a brutal revel in their own bark till it 
was too late to follow and capture the ship. The 
pursuit was afterwards continued for four days at the 
end of which the, bucaniers returned to Panama 
worth thirty thousand pieces of eight, in goods 
from Paita. 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." 


" Meanwhile^ on the opposite coast the ships' com- 
panies left at Chagres were exercising their vocations, 
and had captured one large Spanish vessel, which, 
unaware of the hands into which the castle had fallen, 
ran in under it for protection. While the bucaniers 
were thus employed at sea, and at Panama and 
Chagres, parties continued to scour the surrounding 
country, taking in turn the congenial duty of 
foraging, and bringing in booty and prisoners, on 
whom they exercised the most atrocious cruelties, 
sparing neither age, sex, nor condition. Religious 
persons were the subjects of the most refined barbarity 
as they were believed to direct and influence the rest 
of the inhabitants, both in their first resistance and 
subsequent concealment of property. 

" During the perpetration of these outrages, Morgan, 
as has been noticed, fell in love with a beautiful 
Spanish woman, his prisoner, and the wife of "one 
of the principal merchants. She rejected his in- 
famous addresses with firmness and spirit, and the 
bucanier commander, alike a ruf&an in his love and 
hate, used her with severity that disgusted even his 
own gang, who had not thrown aside every feeling of 
manhood ; and he was fain to charge his fair prisoner 
with treachery to excuse the baseness of the treatment 
she received by his orders. This alleged treachery 
consisted in corresponding with her countrymen, and 
endeavouring to effect her escape.* 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendisli, and Dampier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." 


" Nothing more was to be wrung forth from Panama, 
which, after a sojourn of four weeks, Morgan resolved 
to leave. Beasts of burden were therefore collected 
from all quarters to convey the spoils to the opposite 
coasts. The cannon were spiked, and scouts sent out 
to learn what measures had been taken by the 
governor of Panama to intercept the return to 
Chagres. The Spaniards were too much depressed to 
have made any preparation either to annoy or cut ojff 
the retreat of their inveterate enemies ; and on the 
24th February the bucaniers, apprehensive of no 
opposition, left the ruins of Panama with 175 mules 
laden with their spoils, and above 600 prisoners, in- 
cluding women, children, and slaves. The misery of 
these wretched captives exceeds description. They 
believed that they were all to be carried to Jamaica, 
England, or some equally wild, distant, or savage 
country, to be sold for slaves. And the cruel craft of 
Morgan heightened these fears, the more readily to 
extort the ransoms he demanded for the freedom of 
his unhappy prisoners."* On his arrival at Chagres 
he shipped the unredeemed prisoners to Portobelo, 
making them the bearers of his demand of ransom from 
the governor of that city. The individual shares of 
spoil, however, fell so far short of the expectation of 
the bucaniers, that they openly grumbled and accused 
their chief of the worst crime of which in their eyes he 
could be guilty, secreting the richest jewels for him- 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." 


self. Two hundred pieces of eight, about £40 each 
man, was thought a very small return for the plunder 
of so wealthy a city. 

Morgan, for his own safety, was obliged to steal 
away with what he had obtained, and the vessels 
deserted by him separated here. The companies 
sought their fortunes in different quarters, none of 
them much the richer for the mischief and devastation 
they had carried to Panama. 

On his arrival at Jamaica, Morgan learned that the 
newly appointed governor had orders strictly to 
enforce the treaty with Spain, formed in the previous 
year, but to proclaim pardon and indemnity, and offer 
grants of lands to each of the bucaniers as chose to 
become peaceful settlers. Future depredations on the 
trade of or settlements of Spain were forbidden by the 
Royal proclamation, and under severe penalties. 

Fortunately for the freedom and repose of the 
Spanish colonists, no bucanier corps ever agreed or 
acted in harmony for any length of time. Their 
lawless unions fell to pieces even more rapidly than 
they were formed, and those of the French and English 
seldom adhered even to the conclusion of a joint ex- 

" So complete was the destruction of the then great 
and beautiful city of Panama, that when the miserable 
fugitives returned to it, they could no longer find any 
place of shelter; and so disheartened were they by 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dam pier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." 


their great sufferings and losses, that they had no 
courage to rebuild, assured that it would only serve 
again to attract the avarice of the remorseless pirate. 

" When tidings of these events reached Spain, the 
king immediately sent orders to have the city removed 
to a more defensible locality, and rebuilt in such a 
manner as to defy future assaults, the expenses thereof 
to be defrayed by the crown. In accordance with the 
king's edict a site was chosen on a rocky peninsula at 
the base of a high volcanic mountain, called Ancon, 
four miles to the westward of the old city. There in 
1671, the foundation of the present city was laid."* 

The circumstance that a new city had arisen in a few 
years after the visit of Morgan, which in splendour 
and wealth eclipsed the desolated town of Panama, 
was one of the temptations which induced the bucaniers 
to try their fortunes on the western shores. 

The party of bucaniers which Dampier joined, 
commanded by Captain Sharp, after again attacking 
the unfortunate Portobelo, which they plundered for 
two days and two nights, commenced their march 
across the Isthmus, on the 5th April, 1680, about 330 
strong, accompanied by those Indians of the Darien, 
whom they had conciliated by gifts of toys and trinkets, 
and many fair promises, and who were the hereditary 
enemies of the Spaniards. 

The march was easily performed, and in nine days' 
journey they reached Santa Maria in the Pacific, 

* " Tropical Wanderings, by Oran," in Harper's Magazine. September, 


which was taken without opposition, though this did 
not prevent the exercise of cruelty. The Darien 
Indians who accompanied them cruelly and deliberately 
butchered many of the Spanish inhabitants. No 
plunder obtained, falling far short of the expectations 
of the bucaniers, made them desirous to push forward. 
They accordingly embarked on the river Santa Maria, 
which falls into the Grulf of St. Michael, having 
previously in their summary way deposed Captain 
Sharp, and chosen Captain Coxon commander. On the 
same day that they reached the bay, whither some of 
the Darien chiefs still accompanied them, they captured 
a Spanish vessel of 30 tons burden.* 

In a few days these bucaniers mustered for a 
proposed attack of Panama, and on the 23rd April, 
1680, did battle for the whole day, with three Spanish 
ships in the road, of which two were captured by 
boarding, while a third got off. Even after this victory 
the bucaniers did not consider themselves strong 
enough to attack the new city of Panama, but they 
continued to cruise in the bay making valuable prizes, 
and frequently changing their commanders. Ulti- 
mately they divided into two parties, the minority 
being commanded by William Dampier, who has left 
so interesting an account of his travels. His party, 
consisting of 44 Europeans and two Mosquito Indians, 
determined to recross the Isthmus, an undertaking of 
no small difficulty for so small a party, from the nature 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." 

F 2 


of the country and the hostiUty of the Spaniard. We 
are told that they were much indebted to their 
success from the assistance obtained from an Indian 
upon whom, at first neither the temptation of dollars, 
hatchets, nor long knives, would operate, till one of 
the seamen taking a sky-coloured petticoat from his 
bag, threw it over to the lady of the house, who was 
so much delighted with the gift, that she soon wheedled 
her husband into better humour, and he not only then 
gave them information, but found them a guide. In 
this party was Mr. Wafer, the surgeon of the bucaniers, 
who remained three months among the Darien 

It will be remembered that Spain for a series of 
years monopolized the commerce of Spanish America. 
In those days " its navies were on every sea, and its 
armies in every quarter of the old world and the new."t 
All commercial traffic between the colonies and the 
parent State, except from Seville or Cadiz in Spain, to 
Vera Cruz and Carthagena in America, was prohibited. J 
But Philip v., by the treaty of Utrecht, allowed 
Great Britain the right of sending one ship a year to 
Portobelo, and this led to the establishment of British 
commerce at Carthagena, Panama and other places in 
New Granada. It was by this Treaty of Utrecht in 
1713 that England acquired from Spain with Gibraltar 
and Minorca, the right under the asiento contract of 

* "Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History of 
the Bucaniers." 

f Prescott's " Essay on Cervantes." 
J Mills on " Colonial Constitutions." 


supplying Spanisli America with slaves and of attend- 
ing the fair at Portobelo.* 

It appears that Spain afterwards obtained a release 
from the privilege granted to England, and was once 
more allowed to monopolize the trade of the colonies. 
Contraband traffic was, however, carried on to a large 
extent, and ultimately the advantages of the commerce 
became so great, and the trade itself so increased, that 
about the year 1748, the galleons were no longer 
employed, and the trade with Chili and Peru and even 
that with Panama, was carried on round Cape Horn. 

" For two or three centuries English merchants were 
eager to trade with the inaccessible colonies of Spain, 
and the partial disappointment which ensued on the 
removal of the prohibition is wholly attributable to the 
barbarism and anarchy of half civilized independent 

The constitution of the Spanish colonies was fashioned 
upon that of the mother country. The supreme autho- 
rity was vested in a council resident at Madrid, and 
dependent solely on the king. This was termed 
"Consejo real y supremo de Indias," and had under 
it a board for the regulation of commerce, entitled 
" Audiencia real de la Contratacion," which was held 
in Seville, and thus a more settled system of colonial 
policy was established than any other nation had ever 

In the New World itself, viceroys (virreyes) were 

* Mills on "Colonial Constitutions." 

t Article on Mexico in "Saturday Pteview," September 5, 1863. 


appointed to represent the monarch ; but the dis- 
tribution of justice was confined to the audiencias 
which acted as supreme local tribunals, and, at the 
same time, as state councils to the viceroys. The 
towns elected their own cabildos or municipal 

But however arbitrary the political and commercial 
relations which bound the colonies to the mother 
country, those of religion were more powerful : all the 
external apparatus of Christianity, her cloisters, nay, 
very shortly her inquisition^ were transferred across 
the Atlantic,* and the Spanish ecclesiastical discipHne 
was established in all the colonies by a concordat or 
treaty with the Pope, which empowered the king of 
Spain with full privileges in the external polity of the 
church. The results of all this system have been such 
as might have been anticipated from the vain attempt 
to retain communities of intelligent men in a state of 
perpetual minority. 

The Spanish dominion on the American continent 
which began with the sixteenth century, and extended 
over a period of three hundred years, once comprised 
Mexico, Guatemala, and the territory of Terra Firma, 
now subdivided into the independent states of New 
Granada, Venezuela and Ecuador, also Peru, Chili, 
and La Plata now forming the two states of Para- 
guay and Banda Oriental. This vast area is now abso- 
lutely independent of the parent state. The only 
remaining colonies of Spain are Cuba, Porto Eico, and 

* Mills on " Colonial Constitutions." 


the Phillipines, and a few unimportant settlements on 
the coast of Africa.* 

Up to this date, however, Spain has not officially 
recognised the independence of New Granada; but in 
August 1863, the Spanish squadron, under the com- 
mand of Admiral Pinzon, then in the waters of the 
Pacific, visited Panama for the first time since the 
separation of the colony. This was the same squadron 
which afterwards took possession of the Chincha Islands 
of Peru, when the plea that Spain had not recognised 
the independence of Peru was urged by the Spanish 

" It was the policy of the Spanish sovereign or govern- 
ment as to their American colonies, to render them in 
every way that could be done contributary to the power 
and prosperity of Spain. In the grants of the country 
made to the first adventurers, the Spanish monarchs 
reserved one-fifth of the gold and silver that might be 
obtained, and for a considerable period the precious 
metals were the only objects that attracted, attention 
either in the colonies or old Spain. The right of the 
sovereign to a share of the products of the mines was 
ever after maintained, and it was the intention of 
Spain to confine the industry of the colonies to 
mining as much as possible, for two reasons — one, the 
revenue derived from the source, and the other to 
prevent such branches of agriculture as might inter- 
fere with the products of Spain. f" 

* Mills on " Colonial Constitutions." 

t " A View of Spanish America and Mexico." 


" All the trade with the colonies was carried on in 
Spanish bottoms and under such regulations, as sub- 
jected the colonists to great inconvenience, even the 
commerce of one colony with another, was either 
prohibited or trammelled with intolerable restrictions." 

" Thus was Spanish America shut up from the world, 
crippled in its growth, kept in leading strings, and in 
a perpetual state of minority."* 

" From the want of more frequent intercourse between 
Spain and her colonies, it often happened that events 
which occurred in the latter, were known for some 
time by foreign nations before intelligence of them 
had reached Spain. To remedy this evil, a system of 
packets was established, in 1764, to be despatched on 
the first day of every month to Havannah, from 
whence letters were sent to Vera Cruz, Portobelo, 
and so transmitted throughout the Spanish settle- 

" Objects of commerce connected themselves with this 
arrangement ; the packets were vessels of considerable 
burden, and carried out goods and brought back a 
return cargo in the productions of the colonies. "J 

But, as the author of the '' Conquerors of the New 
World and their Bondsmen " remarks, *' it would be 
hard to prove that Spain derived aught but a golden 
weakness from her splendid discoveries and posses- 
sions in the New World. §" In the latter half of the 
eighteenth century, in the reign of Charles III., 

* " A View of Spanish America and Mexico." f Ibid. J Ibid. 

§ " The Conquerors of the New World, and their Bondsmen." 


regulations for the government of the commerce of 
the Spanish colonies were, however, formed, which 
reheved the colonies from some of the restrictions 
under which they laboured previously, and served 
to animate the commerce between the different ports 
of the peninsula. These regulations, which were 
called by the name of "free commerce," gave to 
the importation and exportation of Spanish America 
an activity hitherto unknown. 

The term " comercio libre," or free commerce, which 
was incorrect as regards the true signification of the 
words, was not so, if one remembers the multitude of 
restrictions with which the commerce of the Spanish 
colonies was enchained ; limited as it was before those 
regulations, to the galleons and squadron which were 
seen only once a year on the coast of New Granada.* 

But to return to Panama. The city of Panama, 
previously to its destruction by Morgan in the year 
1671, consisted of about 12,000 houses, many of 
them large and magnificent : it contained, also, eight 
monasteries and two churches, aU richly furnished. f 

It was situated in 8° 57' north latitude, and 79° 31' 
west longitude, on the shores of a bay called the Bay 
of Panama, from an Indian word signifying a place 
abounding with fish. 

"Born from the blood and sinews of the simple 
aborigines of that unfortunate country, this 'very 

* Ptestrepo's " Historia de Colombia." 

t " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and History 
of the Bucaniers." 


noble and very loyal city/ was fed and nourished 
by a system of oppression and plunder. As tlie entre- 
pot for the riches of the Northern and Southern 
Pacific Coasts, Panama, during the next hundred 
years, grew to be a wealthy and beautiful city 
boasting of temples adorned with gold and silver and 
pictures of great value. Surrounding the city were 
rich plantations and cultivated lands ; a paved Toad 
connected it with the city and harbour of Portobelo."* 
The new city of Panama was thus described by 
Dampier : " This is a flourishing city by reason it is a 
thoroughfare for all imported or exported goods and 
treasure to and from all parts of Peru and Chili, 
whereof their store-houses are never empty. The road 
is seldom or never without ships, besides, once in 
three years, when the Spanish armada comes to Porto- 
belo, then the Plate fleet also, from Lima, comes 
hither with the king's treasure, and abundance of 
merchafnt-ships full of goods and plate ; at that time 
the city is full of merchants and gentlemen, the sea- 
men are busy in landing the treasure, and the carriers 
or caravan masters employed in carrying it overland 
on mules (in vast droves every day) to Portobelo 
and bringing back European goods from thence ; 
though the city be then so full, yet, during the heat of 
business there is no hiring of an ordinary slave under 
a piece of eight a day ; houses, also chambers, beds and 
victuals are then extraordinary dear."t 

* " Tropical Journeyings, by Oran," in Harper's Magazine. September 
1859. t Dampier, vol. i. p. 179. 


It ^vill be seen from the preceding accounts that the 
flourishing trade which Panama formerly enjoyed, and 
which contributed to that importance it attained from 
the first discovery of the American continent, was one 
entirely arising from the transit of treasure and mer- 
chandise from one ocean to the other. This gave a 
profitable employment to all classes of the inhabitants ; 
but it was this, so profitable an employment, which 
may in much account for the Panamenos having, from 
the first neglected other pursuits, and particularly 
agriculture. So much, however, has this been the 
case from the earliest establishment of the colonies, 
that, formerly, as now, there were little or no produc- 
tions of the Isthmus for exportation, so that when the 
route round Cape Horn became the highway for com- 
merce, and the transit trade ceased, the people of the 
Isthmus found themselves plunged into idleness and 
consequent poverty. The discovery of the Californian 
gold-fields was, as will presently be shown, a new era 
for Panama ; fortunes were then rapidly made, and 
want was again temporarily unknown. But the 
people of the Isthmus committed the great mistake of 
fancying that these " good times '* were to last for 
ever, and the money abundantly and readily earned 
was, like the winnings of the gambler, as readily 
spent. Panama, indeed, both old and new, appears to 
have naturally fallen under the ban of poverty and 
especially so when left to its own resources, for we 
read, as a simple instance, that the former colony and 
first settlement at Panama was unable, even if willing, 


to raise the necessary funds to enable Pizarro to 
prosecute his voyages of discovery, even after he had 
met the Peruvians at several places on the coast, and 
that he was obliged to make a voyage to Spain and 
claim the aid of his government before he could 
attempt to conquer his new " El Dorado." While in 
its most rich and prosperous days Panama offered 
much less treasure to Morgan and his followers than 
they anticipated. 

It is difficult also, at this moment, to foresee from 
what source the Panama of the present day is to 
obtain for herself permanent wealth. There are few 
places in the world, I imagine, through which com- 
paratively so many riches pass, and so few remain : 
in her earliest days the whole wealth of Peru passed 
through her hands, while she arose again, in later 
years, to receive the gold and silver of the Californian 
mines in addition. Panama indeed is like the strongest 
part of the stream by which everything passes, and in 
which nothing remains. 

In the foregoing pages I have endeavoured to bring 
back to the recollection of the reader something of the 
history of the Panama of the past : I have done so as 
briefly as possible, and whenever practicable, in the very 
language of those who have studied and written upon 
the subject. 

It will now be time to direct our thoughts to the 
Panama of the present day : to this new highway to 
the Pacific which is attracting the attention of the old 
world, and by whose gates are passing now, not only 


the riches in gold and silver of a new colony, and the 
barren necessaries of life for a few colonists, but 
streams of human life, immense cargoes of treasure. 
Merchandise of every description, and articles of re- 
fined luxury from Europe ; accompanied by European 
letters and English newspapers in untold numbers. 




New Granada. — State of Panamd. — Kecognition of the Independence. — 
Early British Enterprise. 

The Isthmus of Panama lies between the fourth and 
sixth parallels of north latitude, and the seventy- 
seventh and eighty -third of west longitude. It belongs, 
politically, to the republic of New Granada ; now 
called the United States of Colombia. 

The States, forming this Republic, are nine, namely, 
Antioquia, Bolivar, Boyaca, Cauca, Cundinamarca, 
Magdalena, Panama, Santander, and Tolima. 

The population and space of each is estimated as 
follows : — 

Square Miriametros. 





Bolivar . 



Boyaca . 



Cauca . 

. 6,668,00 



. 2,064,00 











Tolima . 



Bogota . 





The city of Bogota is the capital and residence of 

* Made to be 180,000 in 1864. 


the supreme Federal Powers ; the States profess, by 
the constitution,, to be sovereign and independent of 
the government of the Union, except in certain matters, 
such as those relating to territory, foreign relations, &c. 
On this subject it will be necessary to enter more fully 
hereafter. Previously to the year 1863 the state of 
Panama had been one of the eight states which formed 
the republic of New Granada, aferwards called '' The 
New Grranadian Confederation." In 1863, after a 
revolution under Gfeneral Mosquera, which lasted two 
years, and was in the end successful, the name of this 
repubhc was changed to that of the United States of 
Colombia, but without augmentation or diminution of 
territory. The additional state (Tolima) was formed 
by cutting off two provinces, Neiva and Mariquita, 
from the state of Cundinamarca. 

For two generations after the Spanish colonization 
of America, New Granada was composed of two 
presidentships or principal parts, known as the presi- 
dentship of Quito and of the new kingdom of Granada ; 
they were then governed by independent magistrates, 
residing, one at the city of Quito, and the other at 
Santa Fe de Bogota. But both presidentships were 
dependent on the viceroy of Peru, in many and 
important matters relative to civil, as well as military 
government ; consequently that chief, who had Lima 
for his residence, exercised at that time an authority 
over almost all South America. In the year 1721 
these presidentships were united under one viceroy, 
independent of that of Peru, but this government 


lasted only two years, when presidents were again 
appointed as formerly, until 1740. In that year 
owing to the probability of a war with Great Britain, 
Spain saw the necessity of selecting an able chief for 
the defence of the new kingdom of Granada, and 
the second viceroy was then appointed. 

The name of New Granada was, however, hardly 
used generally until the beginning of the present 

From the year 1740, then, until the declaration of 
independence of the Spanish American states, under 
the liberator of Spanish America, General Bolivar, in 
the year 1819, New Granada formed, with the present 
republic of Ecuador, a Spanish vice-royalty. The 
republic of Colombia was formed at a congress of the 
independent states at Angostura on the 17th De- 
cember, 1819 ; it was composed of the former vice- 
royalty of New Granada, and of the former captain- 
generalship of Caracas, or Venezuela, and was so 
named, as the title indicates, in honour of Christopher 
Celumbus. The present republic of Ecuador, which 
was a portion of the vice- royalty, was also comprised 
in this union of the provinces, which had succeeded in 
throwing off their allegiance to Spain. From the year 
1831 the republic of Colombia ceased to exist, the 
departments which had formed it having separated 
into three separate and independent republics, namely, 
New Granada, Venezuela, and Ecuador. But they 
remained united, by friendly treaties, to protect in 

* Kestrepo's " Historia de Colombia." 


case of need their common independence. In the 
year 1855 the New Granadian Confederation was 

General Bolivar well earned the honour of being 
called the Liberator of Spanish America. He not only 
gained the freedom of Venezuela and New Granada, 
but in 1824 was able to establish the independence of 
Peru, and he founded to the south of this country the 
present republic of Bohvia. He was, however, sus- 
pected of aspiring to a dictatorship; and to destroy 
these unjust suspicions he several times resigned all 

The republic of New Granada, or as we must now 
call it, of the United States of Colombia, is bounded on 
the north by the Caribbean Sea and Venezuela; on 
the east by Guiana and Brazil; on the south by 
Ecuador, and on the west by the great Pacific Ocean. 
The limits of the territory of the state of Panama 
are, with the state of Cauca, the river Atrato from its 
mouth upwards to its confluence with the river 
Napipi, thence following upwards the course of tbe 
Napipi to its source, and thence by a straight line to 
the Bay of Cupica in the Pacific ; with the republic 
of Costa Rica, are the natural boundaries between the 
United States of Colombia and Costa Rica.* 

According to the new constitution, the sovereign 
state of Panama is composed of the Colombians in the 
territory, and of the territory which formed the 
province of the Isthmus of Panama, namely, Panama, 

* " Political Constitution of the Sovereign State of Panam^." 1864. 



Azuero, Veraguas and Chiriqni ; when the constitu- 
tional Act of 1855 created the state. 

The state of Panama is, politically, one of the most, 
if not the most important state in the republic. The 
principal ports are now those of Colon in the Atlantic 
and Panama in the Pacific, which are connected by 
the railway that has been in existence since the year 
1855. Under the Spanish monarchy the comandancia 
general of Panama contained the three provinces of 
Panama, Yeraguas and Darien ; but by the division of 
territory, established by the constitution of the former 
Colombia, Darien formed an integral part of the 
province of Panama. 

The department of the Isthmus was, therefore, then 
divided into two provinces, Panama and Yeraguas, 
which, agreeably to the said constitution, were again 
subdivided into cantons and parishes. When the first 
embers of the revolution, which ultimately led to the 
separation of these Spanish colonies from the mother 
country, were lighted at Bogota and Quito in the 
iatter half of the year 1810, the department of the 
Isthmus of Panama was one of the few provinces 
which remained loyal to Spain ; refusing to proclaim 
the revolution, and sustaining the Spanish authorities, 
and when the news arrived of the installation of the 
cortes of Spain at Leon on the 24th September, 1810, 
the province of the Isthmus of Panama recognized 
their authority without any reserve.* 

From the greater facility with which the mother 

* Kestrepo's " Historia de Colombia." 


country could communicate with Panami, it con- 
tinued to be, during nearly eleven years of the 
revolution, an important stronghold of Spain. In- 
deed, provisions and arms were frequently forwarded 
from the Isthmus, to sustain the Spanish authorities 
in the provinces which were able to hold their own 
against the patriots (as they were called) who were 
then strugghng for the independence. 

The last viceroy of the new kingdom of Granada, 
Samano, died at Panama, in the year 1820. The 
new Spanish governor and captain-general Cruz 
Murgeon, whose authority was still recognised there, 
was unable to proceed to Bogota, the revolution there 
having taken so strong a hold on the country, and 
he resolved to go to Quito, where he might succeed 
in opposing a considerable resistance to the rapid 
progress which the cause of the independence was 
making under Bolivar. On his departure from the 
Isthmus on the 21st October 1821, with such forces 
and means as he could command and raise from 
the monasteries, churches, and other resources, thlS 
governor of the province of Yeraguas remained in 
charge of the Isthmus. Prom this time the inde- 
pendence began to be generally talked of, and, after 
some shght opposition on the part of the remaining 
Spaniards, it was peaceably proclaimed on the 28th 
November of that year, at a meeting of aU the civil, 
military, and ecclesiastical bodies. By this act the 
provinces of the Isthmus were united to the new re- 
public of Colombia. The political transformation took 

G 2 


place peaceably, and republican troops were shortly 
afterwards sent to protect the Isthmus from any 
attempts at a re-conquest on the part of the Spaniards.^ 

At the time of the declaration of the independence 
of the Isthmus, the inhabitants of Panama were 
suffering great distress, owing to the interruption of 
the commerce upon which they depended, and from 
having, for a long time, to support large bodies of 
Spanish troops. All this was the natural consequence 
of the course which the war of independence had taken. 
The absolute independence of the whole of South 
America was the vast plan which the President of 
Colombia contemplated.! 

England recognised the independence of New 
Granada in December, 1824. "The fight has been 
hard, but it is won," wrote Mr. Canning. "The 
deed is done ; the nail is driven ; Spanish America is 
free, and if we do not mismanage our matters sadly, 
she is English." 

" This thing achieved, indeed it matters very little 
whether I go out of town or out of office ; for it was 
the one thing needful in the present state of the world, 
and I most assuredly would have gone out of office, 
if I had been thwarted in it." And again he exclaims, 
" Behold the new world established, and if we do not 
throw it away, ours."| 

We find English enterprise and protection stimu- 
lating in every possible way the young State in lier 

* Eestrepo's " Historia de Colombia." f Ibid. 

X " Canning and his Times." 


independence, which was actually obtained in the year 
1821 ; and a year after the recognition of this inde- 
pendence by Great Britain, Mr. Canning was able to 
induce the king to grant an audience to the ministers of 
the new States. Shortly afterwards, a minister pleni- 
potentiary and envoy extraordinary was sent from Eng- 
land to Bogota, the capital of New Granada, and British 
consuls were then sent to Panama and Carthagena. 

On the subject of the king's reception of the 
Minister of Colombia, Mr. Canning, thus wrote to 
Lord Granville : — 

" You will not think my journey to town fruitless, 
when I tell you, that I received, the day before 
yesterday, from the king, a note in which is the 
following sentence : ' The king will receive the 
ministers of the New States early in November/ 
Eecollecting that, this time twelvemonth, it was a 
question whether there should be any New States at 
all, and that in the discussions of that day one of the 
main arguments employed to deter me from my pur- 
pose was that the king would never be brought to 
receive their ministers. I think the two lines above 
quoted are as satisfactory a proof of the sum as 
could be desired." 

It may well be said that, to the New World, Mr. 
Canning's loss was irreparable. It was he who had 
established the New States^ which it seems were, and 
" would continue to be, ours, if w.e did not throw them 
away." * 

* " Canning and his Times." 


Mr. Canning, however, seemed inclined from the first 
to keep his proteges in order, for in another of his 
letters he says, "I delighted in raising these people 
into States, but I shall not let them fancy themselves 
too fine fellows, as they would be apt to do, if not 
snubbed when they deserve it." * 

From that time to this there has been no lack of the 
" snubbing ;" indeed, from the repeated causes which 
the " young republics " have given for this, one can 
but fancy that they like to receive it. 

We have, however, certainly reaped, and are reaping 
great and important advantages from Mr. Canning's 
policy. It is only since the establishment of the 
independence of the South American colonies, that 
foreigners have been allowed to establish themselves 
in those countries, and that the privileges of citizen- 
ship have been granted to them. The attempts of 
England and other European powers to gain a footing 
there were all unsuccessful so long as they were 
colonies under allegiance to Spain ; and although 
Queen Elizabeth denied that " by the Bishop of Eome's 
donation, or any other right, the Spaniards were 
entitled to debar the subjects of other princes from 
those new countries," yet it is certain that we were 
indebted only to their independence for the position 
which foreigners have since held, and now hold, in all 
South America, and for the advantages of the commerce 
at the rich and profitable markets of those countries. 

We have seen in the preceding pages the interest 

* " Canning and his Times." 


which Mr. CanniDg took in the New States on the 
separation from Spain, and we find in the earliest 
days of the New State of Colombia, evident marks of 
British enterprise. In the year 1827, a monthly 
communication was established under the direction 
and auspices of the English naval Commander-in-Chief 
in the West Indies, between Chagres, Panama and 
Jamaica, by government schooners. The correspond- 
ence and treasure from South America was at that 
time forwarded to Europe by this means, and by the 
monthly sailing packets between England and Jamaica. 
The great difficulty in those days, as afterwards, was 
the want of a road between Panama and Chagres. 
From this want long detention invariably took place 
in the transmission of the correspondence to and from 
Chagres and Panama. In this matter the poverty of 
the New State was apparent, and pecuniary assistance 
from the British government was necessary to get the 
mails through the territory. The expense of trans- 
mitting the correspondence across, was at that time 
about 40 dollars or 8/., a month ; but the departmental 
government was so wretchedly poor that it could not, 
from actual want of means, carry out even this important 
measure with regularity. 

In this year (1827) the congress of the nation, 
under the presidency of General Bolivar, passed a law 
for the opening of the Isthmus by a carriage road 
from Panama to Portobelo. It does not appear, how- 
ever, that this road was ever attempted, most probably 
from want of funds, for the opening of the communi- 


cation between the two seas was a favourite scheme of 
the " Liberator." 

The first English man-of-war which arrived at 
Panama was H.M.S. 'Tartar' on the 11th January, 
1825. The Eoyal Mail Company's steamer Severn 
arrived at Chagres on the 22nd June, 1845, with the 
European mails which had been hitherto sent by sail- 
ing vessels from Jamaica, and the Pacific Steam Navi- 
gation Company's mail steamer ''Chile," first arrived 
at Panama on the 21st April^ 1846. The first steamer 
which arrived at Panama appears to have been H.M. 
war steamer "Salamander," on the 21st October, 1843. 
The French government steamer " Le Corner," also 
arrived at Chagres in the same month with commis- 
sioners who were then forming a plan for a line of 
French steamers in the Atlantic. 

Those who enjoy the advantage of receiving their 
letters at Panama under the present arrangements, 
in nineteen or twenty days after they are posted in 
England, will be able to appreciate this on comparison 
with former times, and what is gain to Panama is 
gain to all South and Central America, having ports 
in the Pacific ; as it is also gain to British Columbia 
and California. 

In the time of the sailing packets, communication 
was often irregular, and never more frequent than once 
a month, while letters were sometimes two months 
even between the neighbouring port of Carthagena 
and Panama. In no way has British enterprise more 
signally manifested itself than in the establishment of 


the mail packets in foreign countries. To the West 
Indies and to the Pacific ports this has been of such 
advantage that it would be impossible to estimate the 
benefits derived therefrom by all classes of the com- 
munity. It is well that it has also proved advan- 
tageous to those who were willing to risk capital in 
enterprise in comparatively unknown countries. 



Opening of the Eailway. — British Mail Packets. — American Steam Ships. — 
Isthmus Surveys. — The Panamd Railway. 

In a preceding chapter I have remarked that 
ordinary books of reference do not yet give us very 
much, or very correct, information regarding Panama. 
Even McCulloch_, in his useful " Geographical Dic- 
tionary," in the edition for 1854, 1 believe the last edi- 
tion, says, relative to the railway, " Previously to 1740, 
when the trade with the Pacific first began to be 
carried on round Cape Horn, Panama was the principal 
entrep6t of trade between Europe and America. Prom 
that period, however, it fell off and its decay has 
been peculiarly rapid ever since the independence of 
South America, and the opening of other ports in the 
Pacific, but within the last two or three years it has 
rapidly increased, and should a canal or railway be 
carried across the Isthmus, of which there can be Httle 
doubt, it will in all probabiHty attain to greater dis- 
tinction than ever." * 

This problematical railway about which McCuUoch 
in 1854, and my friend the London Banker in 1862, 
were so much in doubt, was actually commenced in 

McCulloch's " Geographical Dictionary." Edition 1854. 


earnest in tlie year 1850, and opened from the 
Atlantic to the Pacific in working operation on the 
27th January, 1855. 

Her Majesty s consul, Mr. Henderson, says of it in 
his Eeport for 1861, "The immense importance of the 
Panama railroad to the trade between Europe and the 
United States, and the ports in the Pacific, is appa- 
rent from the great increase in the commercial activity 
of those ports since its establishment ; and its use- 
fulness is likely to become vastly increased in propor- 
tion as the facihties it already afifords are duly 
appreciated and taken advantage of; and those addi- 
tional ones, which it will doubtless be compelled and 
wilhng to extend to commerce, are carried into efiect."* 
Bouillet, in his " Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de 
Geographic," under the article "Chagres," tells us that 
the railway was in operation from this point (Chagres) 
in 1853. But this is one of the many errors relative to 
the Isthmus of Panama. From the first surveys of 
the railroad company, in 1848, it was decided to make 
the Atlantic terminus of the railway at Navy Bay, in 
which is located the present town of Colon. 

As may be supposed, great and important changes 
have taken place since the opening of this railway, 
and in consequence of it; but it is not, I take it, 
wholly due, as the Americans like to maintain, to this 
railway that Panama has assumed its present position 
of importance in the eyes of the political and commer- 

* Commercial Reports from Her Majesty's Consuls, presented to Parlia- 
ment. 1863. 


cial world; indeed, as Captain Liot said in 1844, 
" although the honour of being the first to construct a 
railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean may 
possibly (and does) attach to the citizens of the United 
States, the Eoyal Mail Company are undoubtedly 
entitled to some share of public consideration for re- 
storing a valuable communication which had been 
almost abandoned since the period when the Isthmus 
of Panama was occupied by the Spaniards." * 

In 1844 the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company 
sent to Panama Captain Liot^ their colonial superin- 
tendent, who was accompanied by the crown surveyor 
of Jamaica, for the purpose of obtaining such informa- 
tion as might be useful in enabling the directors of 
that company to form an opinion as to the practica- 
bility of influencing the triansit of passengers, specie, 
&c., between Europe, North America_, and the Pacific, 
making the same pass through the Isthmus of Panama 
instead of by the route round Cape Horn.f In 1840, 
the British Admiralty had made the contract with 
this company for the conveyance of Her Majesty 
mails to and from the port of Chagres. 

Years before the opening of the railway, the 
Isthmus had again become the highway to Europe 
and the United States for the riches of Mexico and 
South America. As early, too, as 1840, ten years 
before the first foot of ground for the railway was 
cleared, and fifteen years before the line was opened, 
the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, an English 

* " Communication between the Atlantic and Pacific." f Ibid. 


company, under charter from the British Government, 
commenced in the Pacific a line of mail and passenger 
steamers corresponding with those of the Eoyal Mail 
Company in the Atlantic, aline which has ever since been 
in successful operation on the West Coast, and which 
is now conveying both European and United States 
mails as well as those of the Southern republics from 
Panama to the southernmost ports of Chili. 

The peculiar geographical position of the Isthmus of 
Panama naturally makes it a very important position 
to South American and Californian commerce. This 
the Americans undoubtedly perceived when they 
undertook and carried out with such indefatigable 
energy that which England and France after repeated 
and expensive surveys certainly failed to accomplish, 
namely, the railway from sea to sea. All honour to 
them, therefore, for their spirit of enterprise. We in 
England had talked, and still talk, of Isthmus canals 
and railways, as we have talked for some years of a 
line of steamers via Panama to Australia, but with 
our talk and our surveys we get no further. To the 
American company was conceded the privilege which 
had been originally granted to the French, but the term 
of the contract was reduced from 99 to 49 years, and 
a right has been reserved by the Government of New 
Granada to purchase the railroad, or rather redeem 
the privilege at the expiration of twenty years on 
payment of five millions of dollars (about one million 
sterling). The American projectors, first in 1848, 
memorialized the Congress of the United States 


for assistance to enable them to carry out this 
grand enterprise; but they failed to obtain this 
assistance, and boldly proceeded on the great work 
without it. 

Some years, however^ before the opening of the 
railway, the Californian gold fields had attracted thou- 
sands of emigrants through the swamps and forests 
which divided the Atlantic from the Pacific. This 
emigration gave rise to the establishment of regular 
steam communication between Panama and San 
Francisco, the port of the new state. The Americans 
understood those things, and saw the growing 
importance of California, and as early as 1848 there 
were large steamers plying between Panama and 
California, to provide for a daily increasing trafiic, 
while corresponding communication was established 
by American steamers between Chagres, the then 
Atlantic port of the Isthmus, and New York. 
Emigrants from all parts of the world gladly availed 
themselves of these means, and paid almost ungrudg- 
ingly the enormous rates of passage money demanded 
of them. We in England^ before the time of the 
Hmited companies, used to take months and years to 
make up our minds whether such or such an enterprise 
would pay. The Americans, before the time of their 
troubles, used generally to carry out the enterprise 
and inquire afterwards, whether it had paid. Both 
practices have their advantages, but the public and 
travelling community are generally gainers by the 
promptitude of the Yankees. 


There can be no question now, however, regarding 
the enterprise I have just referred to. The Pacific Mail 
Company have the largest and probably the best 
paying steamers in the world, and they are likely to 
have the monopoly of this trade for years to come. 
They perhaps deserve it too, for finer ships, or better 
accommodation for passengers, will not often be met 
with. I have seen seven hundred or eight hundred, 
and even a thousand passengers on one of these ships 
comfortably " stowed away " and provided for a 
twelve days' voyage, with as little to-do as if they were 
merely to cross the Channel, while for newly-married 
ladies there are four-post bedsteads in cabins as large 
as ordinary bedrooms on shore. 

People in England have hardly an idea of the 
magnitude of the traflSc now between Panama and 
San Francisco, or rather between New York and San 
Francisco, vid Panama. On a recent and not extra- 
ordinary occasion, the Pacific Company's steamer 
" Golden City^' left Panama with twenty-two hun- 
dred tons of cargo from New York, and seven 
hundred tons of coals, besides carrying nearly seven 
hundred passengers, and having room for as man^/ 
more ! * 

Numerous, indeed, had been the prospects for a 
means of communication between the Atlantic and 
Pacific, before the establishment of the Panama 
railway. To Saavedra, the kinsman and commander 
under the famous Hernando Cortes, is ascribed the 

* 25tli July, 1864. 


bold prospect of cutting a canal from sea to sea.=^ And 
it was a favourite scheme of the President of Colombia, 
the liberator Bolivar. We have too, in more recent 
times, the surveys of Mr. Wheelwright, Mr. Hellert ; 
Captain Lloyd, in 1842 ; Mons. Garella, under the 
French king, Louis Philippe, in 1843 ; Sir Charles Fox's 
survey by Mr. Grisborne, in 1852 ; Commander Pre vest, 
E.N., for the British Government, in 1853; Lieut. 
Strain, for the United States, in 1854; besides a host of 
others from Mons. Belli to Commander Pim, and indeed 
from the time of Humboldt, "now coasting the stormy 
shore of the Gulf and penetrating its unhealthy streams, 
jotting down every landmark that might serve to 
guide the future navigator, or surveying the crested 
Isthmus in search of a practical communication between 
the great seas on its borders."! 

In May, 1864, a party of American engineers 
returned to Panama after completing a survey of 
the Isthmus from the river Bayano in the Bay of 
Panama, to San Bias on the Atlantic, having spent 
nearly three months in making their observations, 
they made the distance across from these points 
twenty-eight miles, and found the lowest summit 
level 800 ft. J This was the shortest road that has 
been discovered. 

" The Saturday Eeview" in an article on Captain 
Pim's book, " The Gate of the Pacific," says, with much 

* " Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, and His- 
tory of the Bucaniers." 

t Prescott's " Essays," " Calderon's Life in Mexico." 
X Panamd " Star and Herald," May, 1864. 


force, that " The attention of great thinkers and public 
men has been repeatedly directed to the subject of 
Central American transit ever since Columbus spent the 
latter years of his life in vainly beating about to find a 
natural passage from ocean to ocean ; but from various 
causes, it bas hitherto failed to take hold of the public 
mind in England with a vigour in any adequate de- 
gree corresponding to the magnitude of the interests 

The same writer goes on to say : "Ten canal routes 
at least have been proposed, the principal lines being 
fairly traceable on an ordinary map. Beginning on 
tbe extreme west, the first is that starting from Tehu- 
antepec on the Pacific, and ending at the point where 
the Eiver Coatzacoalcos enters the Gulf of Mexico. 
So strongly did Cortez believe in the merits of this 
route, that he selected the lands in the neighbourhood 
as his portion of the conquered country. A careful 
survey was made in 1842 by Don Jose de Garay, 
aided by experienced Spanish engineers. The total 
length of this route is one hundred and thirty-eight 
miles, and the lowest cost, estimated with much diffi- 
dence, by Don Jose, would be 3,400,000/. The dis- 
tracted state of Mexico offers, however, so fatal an 
obstacle to this scheme that other objections are 
dwarfed by the comparison. The next route is the 
favourite of the Emperor Napoleon, concerning whom 
it may not be generally known that he wa,s at one 
time not far from swaying the destinies of Nicaragua. 

* " Saturday Review," March 7, 1863. 



When a prisoner at Ham, in 1840, he was formally 
requested by the Nicaraguan Government to take upon 
himself exclusively the construction of a canal through 
their country. And though, being kept a close pri- 
soner, he could not accede to that request, the idea 
remained firmly rooted in his mind, and seven years 
later he read an elaborate and able pamphlet on the 
subject before the Institution of Civil Engineers in 
London. This line, two hundred miles in entire 
length, runs from San Juan del Sur, on the Pacific, to 
the mouth of the San Juan Eiver, on the Atlantic. 
Its great attraction is the natural advantage afforded 
by the Lake of Nicaragua, a magnificent inland sea, 
ninety-five miles long^ in its broadest part about thirty- 
five miles, and averaging fifteen fathoms of water in 
depth. This is the canal-line which was so carefully 
surveyed in 1837-8 by Mr. Bailey, of the Eoyal 
Marines, since which time France has continued to 
regard it with a most' favourable eye, and is said by 
no means to have abandoned the hope of working it 
even yet. The Lake is navigable for ships of the 
largest class quite down to the point of departure of 
the Eiver San Juan, so that this line would appear to 
possess all the recommendations that nature can 
bestow. The shorter route from Chiriqui Lagoon, a 
splendid Atlantic harbour, to the mouth of the David 
Eiver, is condemned by the want of a likely port on 
the Pacific side. The government of Louis Philippe 
warmly patronized a route from the little bay of Vaca 
del Monte, near Panama, to Limon Bay on the 


Atlantic. The line from San Bias to Cliepo, recom- 
mended by Mr. Oliphant, has the merit of cutting the 
narrowest part of the Isthmus, where it is but thirty 
miles wide. The sanction of Humboldt's name has 
been invoked in support of several routes. What 
seems to be certain is, that he regarded Darien as the 
true point of the Isthmus for a canal, and inclined to 
cut across from Caledonia Bay to the Grulf Miguel, 
or else — and this was his favourite scheme — to 
go further east, and make a canal-junction between 
the rivers Atrato and San Juan (not to be con- 
founded with the Nicaraguan river of the same 

^Now, it certainly is a very significant fact, that 
canals across the Isthmus should have been proposed 
at so many different points by so many able and 
prominent men, and yet that no canal has ever yet 

been achieved On the other hand, 

though railways are not yet half a century old, while 
the transit question itself dates back very nearly 
from the discovery of the Continent, a remarkably 
successful and remunerative raiboad has run for 
eight years * past across the Province of Panama. It 
must, however, be remembered that though steam 
locomotives had begun running, yet the question of 
railway construction was by no means so thoroughly 
understood as it now is^ when several of the leading 
opinions on canal-transit were formed. The imagina- 
tion, if not the judgment, of Humboldt clung to the 

'* Now ten years. 

H 2 


notion of a grand, lock-free, ship canal to the last. But 
when account is made of the length of time necessary 
for the construction of such a work, the enormous 
outlay at certain points (30,000,000/. were estimated 
for the Atrato route), and, above all, the rapid changes 
which are not uncommon in the harbours of either 
shore through the process of " silting up," the scale 
appears decidedly to fall in favour of the comparative 
cheapness, certainty, and speed of a railroad."* 

The Tahuantepec route, according to its supporters, 
was to afford the most expeditious line of transit for 
travellers, and was to be the speediest mail route, but 
it was not suitable for the transit of merchandise, on 
account of the shallow and open nature of the harbour on 
one side and the other, so that even this important high- 
way has given way to that of the Isthmus of Panama. 

I shall endeavour to show, by and by, what England 
has lost by losing the Panama railway, and what the 
Americans have gained by gaining it ; but I do not 
think this loss is to be regained by any such scheme 
as that of Commander Pim. That the Isthmus of 
Panama has again arisen to a position important to 
other countries is, however, unquestionable. But it is 
possible that the American " element " and influence 
in that quarter has reached its zenith, for although it 
can hardly be expected that the disorganized and 
impoverished state in which foreign enterprise has, as it 
were, nolens volens, planted itself, will, for years to come, 
learn to set aside the vicious habits taught by a long 

* " Saturday Eeview," March 7, 1863. 


series of revoliitions_, for those of industry and peace, 
to the acquiring of political importance ; it is, neverthe- 
less, I think, not improbable that other countries may 
aspire to secure a permanent key to this important 
highway. I mean only a key, and without for a 
moment detracting from the greatness of the enter- 
prise which has thus far made the United States 
warden, by repute, of the Isthmus of Panama, I am 
inclined to think that it is, perhaps, in the true 
interests, pohtical and commercial, of Europe, and of 
the European colonies, that the time be not too far 
distant when the neutrality of the Isthmus be secured 
by the European powers, or the capitalists of Europe 
see it to their advantage to find for ISTew Granada the 
sum by which she may redeem her pecuniary bondage 
to America ; so that in time of war, as in time of 
peace, the Isthmus of Panama may be in fact, what 
it is by nature destined to be, the highway at all hours 
for all nations. This question we will, however, 
discuss in a future chapter. 



The Atlantic Voyage. 

In these days of steam communication when it has 
been proved over and over again that "the water is 
the great highway of nations, the true element for the 
discoverer," it is not difficult for the traveller about to 
start on the longest voyage, to " book through " from 
London to his destination : as is the demand in this 
matter, as in others, so is the supply. Be the destina- 
tion in the least known or least travelled country, the 
means of getting to it are, in these times, compara- 
tively easy. While to a place or country at all known 
it is, in sailors' language, "plain sailing." 

Englishmen, I think, as a rule, care more than the 
generality of people about the places they must of 
necessity pass through, and few like to go over new 
ground without forming some acquaintance with, or 
acquiring some knowledge, be it ever so slight, of the 
towns or places they are obliged to visit on their 
travels. '' By all means let us see the cannibals at 
Panama," says Miss Blank, as attired in a winter 
costume, gradually reduced to one red petticoat over 


an unmanagable crinoline, she hangs on the arm of 
the gentleman from Cork. "By all means, Miss 
Blank/' I shall endeavour to prepare for you and others 
of my dear countrywomen, as well as for the gentlemen 
from Cork, a guide to all the lions of Panama. But to 
begin at the beginning, perhaps we had better start 
from Southampton. The Eoyal Mail steamer will soon 
carry us across the Atlantic, and we shall then see the 
first of the Isthmus from where, or nearly so, the 
great Colombus saw it. I say the Eoyal Mail steamer, 
for until the French have their long-promised line of 
packets to the West Indies and Colon, or Cunard has 
run out branch lines from the States, which I suppose, 
now that the Royal Mail Company have an extension 
of the postal contract, he will not do just yet, the 
European traveller, to the Isthmus, will generally 
take the Royal Mail Company s steamer, leaving 
Southampton on the 2nd or 17th of the month, and, 
as Mr. Trollope tells us, he may take a more uncomfort- 
able means of conveyance.* 

It requires a great muster of courage for me to say 
good-bye properly. It required a great effort, dear 
reader, for me to say my first good-bye, to say farewell 
to the last dear friend, to say it to the last pretty girl 
I was to see in England for long, long years to come. 
From my experience of such partings and leave- 
takings, they are a painful necessity alike to those 
who go and those who stay. I have seen the lips of 
strong-bearded, brave men, quiver on such occasions ; 

* "West Indies and Spanish Mam.'" 


of men too who appeared impermeable to all sentiment ; 
and I have seen frail, tender-hearted women almost 
crushed in paroxysms of grief in such moments. My 
humble opinion on the subject of leave-takings is, that 
they should be gone through and got over, once for 
all, on shore ; a passenger-ship is of all others the most 
unsuitable place for them. We were, I remember, a 
most melancholy party as we steamed up the South- 
ampton Eiver in the little tender to the noble ship in 
which my first berth was taken. What, too, can be 
more miserably melancholy than that wretched half- 
hour on board^ before the steamer starts on her 
voyage ? — and then, again, that sad farewell, those 
dreadful last adieux, requiring still greater nerve and 
courage ; for, however serious matters may have 
hitherto been, they become more serious then, and one 
realizes painfully the actual fact, which had been half 
lost before in packing up and preparations, that the 
deep wide sea is to separate us from our loved ones. 
The friends who care for your going realize it, the 
" outward bound " realize it, and each little circum- 
stance impresses it upon one. The deputation from 
that august body, the court of directors, are about to 
leave the ship ; the engineer, who has been pacing the 
deck impatiently, assumes a terrificly important air. 
The captain has doffed his " mufti," for the blue cloth 
cap with gold lace and the company's buttons, the 
admiralty agent lights his cigar and looks grander and 
more important than ever. Hands must be shaken 
again and again, but then for the last time, the last 


fond embrace, if given, must be given in public, and if 
the long restrained tear is shed it must be shed before 
" all hands." The anchor already is up, and in one 
moment more we are away. Puff, puff goes the 
engine, round and round go the wheels, and round and 
round go the brains of the poor sea-sick passengers. 
The pilot takes the ship out from what sailors call 
danger — the land — and leaves us at the Needles. 
Then, in the fullest sense of the word, one is at sea. 
I will not attempt to describe to you, ye landsmen, 
that first solitary hour, those cold, dull, friendless, 
unhappy, sea-sick moments. 

As Eliot Warburton tells us, " There is no de- 
parture so impressive as that by sea. Those whose 
hands we have but now grasped fervently in ours 
— those whose last faltering words are still in our ear 
— are now with us^ — now fading away in distance — 
gradually becoming invisible — absorbed into the sea 
and sky — gone Hke those who die ; except, that even 
the very form we have long loved for the sake of the 
spirit within, is likewise gone."* 

It appears to me that passengers have in these days 
of steam less than ever to amuse or occupy them on 
board during the sea voyage ; or it is, perhaps, because 
the generality of steamer voyages are too short to 
enable them to take kindly to those amusements and 
occupations which come in their way. 

I almost think that those who are sea-sick are not 
perhaps so much to be pitied, although sea-sickness is 

* "Darien." 


a melancholy occupation enough. But it is an occu- 
pation, and that is what is required at sea as much as 
on shore. Passengers cannot incessantly pace the deck 
as the officers of the watch do. Few can eat at every 
meal as the Grermans do, nor can one find diversion 
always in observing the " distinguished foreigners," to 
be met with only on board these steamers, attack the 
fruit dishes and pastry; and nnfortunatel}^ too, one 
cannot read much at sea without becoming sleepy, or 
sleep much without becoming stupid. As to writing, 
with me it is out of the question ; indeed, it seems to 
me almost an impossibility unless one is the captain 
or admiralty agent, and has a cabin to himself, with a 
place to write upon which allows one's legs and knees 
to descend in something like a position they have 
been educated to. I often wonder how people manage 
to write the diaries that profess to be written on 
board passenger steamers. I have generally found, 
whenever I attempted to write even a letter, either 
that the steward wanted the table for one or other 
of the nine daily meals, or that a clumsy servant 
had opened a bottle of warm soda-water exactly over 
the spot 1 had selected, perhaps the only spot on the 
cabin table disengaged. I suppose there is no remedy 
for all this. There hardly can be one in an ordinarily 
litted-up steamer. But the facts exist, and they alone 
are enough to disturb the equilibrium of any caligraphic 
powers, to say nothing of the motion of the vessel. My 
own chief amusement on board is derived from specu- 
lation and reflection on the mysterious coincidences 


in connection with passenger traffic ; on that law, for 
instance, which orders that out-going ships to the 
West India colonies take so many brides and so few 
children while homeward-bound ships take so many 
children, and so few brides. I wonder, too, what 
becomes of the little ones, and why they are handed 
over to the old country instead of being retained by 
the new. On my last voyage to England, I remember 
there were sixty young children ; and on my voyage 
out, I was going to say, nearly as many brides; 
certainly, two ladies out of every three were brides, 
and there were many ladies — genuine brides, too — yet 
in the honeymoon. There is no accounting for taste, 
but certainly of all places in the world, a passenger 
steamer is, I tliink, the last I should select for 
my honeymoon. But I have travelled much, at sea, 
and my heart is hardened to a great deal of the 
romance of the life on board. 

Apropos of brides, I may here record an occurrence 
which is said to have happened on board one of these 
steamers as she neared her destination. It was on one 
of those delightful moonlight nights which are only to 
be fully appreciated in the tropics. The heroine was 
a very lovely girl going out to one of the West 
India islands ; she was one whose great beauty and 
charming disposition entitled her to be the admired of 
all on board, and she was accordingly deeply admired ; 
admired, too, in particular by one young gentleman, a 
fellow-passenger. What a chain of incidents are 
these for a novelist ! alas, that they should have fallen 


to no better pen than mine ! for I can only tell the 
tale as it was told to me. 

" Confound it !" ejaculated the gentleman referred 
to, to his friend in the opposite cabin, as they were 
dressing for breakfast, " that last lurch of the ship 

has made me cut my lip/' " The d it has !" his 

friend replied, '^'^this proves to you that shaving is an 
improper operation on board, but I trust the cut is 
not serious; let me offer you a beauty spot from my 
court plaster." The cut happily proved to be of the 
slightest, and the "beauty spot" was almost unneces- 
sarily accepted. On the evening of this day the 
inexpert shaver and our fair and beautiful friend were 
observed to walk long and lovingly together, and to 
gaze often and tenderly, now into each other's eyes, 
now at the bright splashing waves below, until stern 
propriety summoned them from the deck to the cabin_, 
when, by a strange coincidence, the identical beauty 
spot was found to have transferred itself from the 
gentleman's upper lip to the lady's. Can you, fair 
reader, if I am happy enough to have one, explain to 
me this mystery, for he who told the tale had not the 
heart to ask it of those who might have explained. 
But if all this was flirting, was it not highly 
improper ? I do hope none of my dear countrywomen 
will be given to flirting on board ship, for they should 
remember that flirting in public, and least of all 
flirting on the deck of a passenger steamer, is never 
charming or pretty. They must remember, too, that 
all that is done on board ship, and very often a great 


deal more, is seen by some one, and talked about by 
every one. 

Of course much on a voyage must depend upon 
oneself, as the directors in the regulations of the 
Cunard steamers pointedly remark : "It being 
obvious that on a passage of some days' duration the 
comfort of a numerous body of passengers must very 
much depend upon the manner in which they 
themselves assist in promoting it." Indeed, all the 
provision and care and foresight of all the courts of 
directors in Christendom, combined with the delicate 
attentions of the most perfect of captains, will not 
make a voyage agreeable unless people make up their 
minds to put up with discomforts, and things which 
are less pleasant than on shore. But when this is 
done, and one has fair weather, agreeable com- 
panions, and a determination to make the best of it, 
the Atlantic may be crossed pleasantly enough 
Eeading, if it does make one sleepy ; walking, if it 
does become monotonous; and even a game or two at 
" bull," are good in their way, and help the days 
along. One may grumble a little now and then at 
the discomforts which are forced upon us, for it is an 
Englishman's privilege to grumble, and, unless it is 
the first, one will probably complain of the tediousness 
of the voyage, but one generally leaves the ship at the 
end of the trip voting the captain the ablest of all 
able commanders, and his ship the finest and best that 
ever floated. We are all so grateful for a long sea 
voyage safely ended, that wo think only of the gentle 


ripple of the waves and pleasant sunshine, forgetting 
the black clouds and angry sea. In this genial mood, 
it is remarkable how much we assume to know of the 
qualities of the gallant captain. I should think the 
commanders of steamers must often smile at the 
compliments that are paid to them by 'Hheir warm 
and sincere friends " of a week's standing. Fourteen 
or fifteen days, wind and weather permitting, will, 
however, suffice to convey the passenger, under the 
present arrangement, to the Danish island of St. 
Thomas, the coaling depot and chief West Indian 
station of the Eoyal Mail Steam Packet Company. 
Mr. Anthony TroUope, in his book on the West Indies, 
has described this island better than I could possibly 
do — better of course than I could possibl}^ describe 
any place ; but his description has not wonderfully 
pleased the St. Thomas people. I leave my readers in 
his hands, however, while at St. Thomas, as I shall do 
while at Jamaica. 

The passengers for Colon do not often remain long 
at either place, and it is specially with the Colon 
passengers that we have to do. They generally 
have time, however, to go on shore and buy a new 
straw hat with a muslin veil as a protection from the 
now hot sun, and also a lighter coat than is dreamed 
of in the dog-days in England. By all means buy the 
coat, if it only serves from St. Thomas to Colon, and 
Colon to Panama. It is the perfection of a coat for 
these regions. 

In about four days from St. Thomas the branch 


steamer arrives at Jamaica, and two days from thence 
will land her passengers at Colon, the now Atlantic 
port of the Isthmus of Panama and terminus of the 
Panama Eailway. Huzza ! say the sea-sick passengers. 
Huzza ! say I. For until those who minister to our 
wants at sea can afford to give us on board accommoda- 
tion less like that we provide for cattle on shore, and 
more like that to which human beings in the present 
age accustom themselves, travelling at sea must be 
minus many of its charms. It is really wonderful 
that ladies, and men too, who on shore would not dream 
of sharing a large bedroom with a stranger, even of 
their own sex, can consent to be crowded into a cabin 
of the smallest possible dimensions, for a voyage of ten 
or twenty days, with another human being to share 
their misery : while, if the whole cabin is secured by an 
enormous extra charge, or the favour of an influential 
member of the court of directors, one is cruelly 
reminded of his narrow escape from greater discomfort 
by the close proximity of the unoccupied shelf of his 
should-be fellow-passengers. Can aU this misery 
really be necessary, in this age of luxury, inventions 
and improvements ? I hope to see the day when more 
room is provided for passengers and less for boxes of 

I have said that passengers from Europe will 
generally take passage by the Eoyal Mail steamer 
from Southampton, to get to Colon, but one may also 
get there, by way of the United States, in about 
the same time, and at about the same cost. Those 


who have travelled in the \^essels of the Cunard line 
know that it is impossible to travel in finer ships or 
in more comfortable steamers, but the Cunard line 
takes one only half the journey, namely, from Liverpool 
to New York. From New York to Colon the great 
American shipowner, Mr. Vanderbilt, has hitherto run 
his ships and ruled the waves. Passengers by the 
American steamers between New York complain 
bitterly of them ; they complain of the accommodation 
which is generally insufficient, of the food, of its quality 
and quantity, and of the attendance and service 
generally ; and I think they so complain with great 
reason. It was once my misfortune to have to make 
a voyage in one of these American or Californian 
steamers, as they are called, and certainly I do not 
remember to have suffered in my whole life eight days 
of more perfect misery. To begin with, we were way 
passengers, i,e,, passengers from the Isthmus, and there- 
fore no interest or favour could get us accommodation 
until after the ship had sailed, and then only after all 
the passengers with through tickets from San Francisco 
had been berthed. To form part of a tail to get into a 
popular theatre at Paris is bad enough, but to have to 
perform this feat for two or three hours on board a 
steamer tossing about in the Caribbean sea, is some- 
thing beyond all ordinary trials of patience. This, 
however, I did, while my poor wife was suffering 
utter misery on the dark, damp deck, until at last I 
bethought myself of the American gallantry for ladies, 
and induced her to push through the crowd of Yankees 


to the purser's office, when we managed to get our 
dirty, unwholesome cabins allotted some moments be- 
fore our turn. 

It is beyond me to describe the nasty food, 
filthy table-cloths, and dirty knives and forks. It 
is sufficient to say that the steerage passengers, 
miners without luggage, from San Francisco, ''feed" 
first, and at the same table as those who pay 
for the best accommodation, and that a smell 
of greasy cookery prevails on board from daylight 
to dusk. 

The provisions for the voyage out and home are 
brought in ice from New York ; and to add to 
our discomfort, the ice melted, or was all consumed^ 
a few days before our arrival at New York, which 
was not the means of improving the quality or flavour 
or odour of the meat. 

Among our passengers on this trip was a relation 
of the great Mr. Yanderbilt, who had come from San 
Francisco in one of the fine, well-found Pacific 
steamers, and it was amusing to hear the attempts at 
comphmentary speeches with which the friends of 
this lady endeavoured to gain her good- will. '' Well, 
say what they may," said one lady, '' I certainly like 
the food on board this ship better than that on board 
the '' Constitution." " Why so ?" said the Yanderbilt 
lady, who was much too sensible to believe such 
humbug, and who would herself, I think, have presided 
at an " indignation meeting." " Why so, madam !" 
" Well, I do, and it's because there is less variety ; 



when I see a great variety it makes me a kind of 

On this voyage of so many desagrements I was 
charmed with an instance of American charity. A 
poor girl who had a year or two ago gone to Cahfornia 
to seek her fortune there, as hundreds of young 
American women do, fell sick when she had only 
money enough to enahle her to pay her passage hack 
to the Northern States. She was then so much an 
invalid as to he unahle to walk, and every day 
was she carried on deck tended and cared for hy 
her fellow-passengers, people from the mines who 
had never seen her hefore. And with the open- 
hearted generosity of the Americans, a purse of 
upwards of £50 was presented to her on the day she 
left the ship. 

We reached New York on the ninth day after leaving 
Colon, and were glad enough to get on shore. I could 
not help thinking that if I were as great a man as Mr. 
Yanderbilt, I would accommodate my passengers, and 
feed them, too, in such a way that they should have no 
good reason to complain. Alas ! I am not so great 
a man as Mr. Yanderbilt. 

But until passengers are so tended and cared for, I 
think I am right in saying that the majority of Euro- 
peans proceeding to South America will generally take 
the Royal Mail Company's steamers from Southampton, 
in preference to the route through the States, and the 
American steamers. 

These steamers, however, arrive at Panama every ten 


days, so that one going out from Liverpool to New- 
York might take his own time in the States, and start 
for Panama at his pleasure. If Mr. Vanderbilt were 
not so naughty a boy, this trip would be very agreeable 
— as it is, those who wish to go to Panama from 
the States have no choice between his ships, and an 
occasional opposition line — when fares are low and 
steamers crowded ; yet it seems by the yearly 
statistics, that the persons who have no choice are 
not a few. 

If any steam-ship company out of England were to 
continue to do its work in such a way that the public 
were dissatisfied, it is probable that a serious oppo- 
sition line would be started ; but a serious opposition 
line from New York to Colon is an undertaking only 
for a millionnaire, simply because Mr. Yanderbilt will 
not allow an opposition. Whenever an opposition 
has been started, passengers have been carried for 
next to nothing, and even for less than nothing ; 
they have been paid to go. I have seen passengers 
admitted from New York to San Francisco, a dis- 
tance by sea of, say^ from New York to Colon^ 1,990 
miles; from Colon to Panama, 47 miles; from 
Panama to San Francisco, 3^250 miles; in all, 5,287 
miles, for thirty dollars (6/.) ; of this sum twenty-five 
dollars (5/.) had to be paid for the Isthmus transit, 
so that there remained about one pound sterling for 
the conveyance of the passengers by the steamer, and 
for their maintenance on board for about twenty-two 
days. These were doubtless " good times " for the 

i; 2 


travelling public. But this may illustrate the sort 
of reception that an opposition meets with. The 
lowest rate for the through passage now is 125 
dollars. The highest, or first class, is 225 dollars. 

For a number of years the Pacific Mail Company 
paid Mr. Yanderbilt a large monthly subsidy in order 
to keep out an opposition in the Pacific. These were 
" good times," I think, for Mr. Vanderbilt. The 
subsidy is no longer paid, and the shoe may possibly 
pinch in another direction, namely, the Nicaragua 
route ; but I do not believe it ; the Panama route has 
so many advantages over that of Nicaragua, that 
I do not think our old friends, and my good friends, 
the Pacific Mail Company and the Panama Bail way 
Company, can be very much affected by it. 

Those who have read the American news — and who 
at the time I write does not read with interest news 
from America? — will remember that one of the most 
important acts of the notorious "Alabama," or " 290," 
of the Southerners, was the seizure of Yanderbilt's 
steamer "Ariel," in December of 1862, on her way 
to the Isthmus with the mails for California and 
the South Pacific. 

People living on the Isthmus had long foreseen the 
exposed position of these steamers, and the easy prey 
that they might become to privateers. But the 
Government of the United States, if cognizant of the 
danger, appeared at least indifferent to it, and the 
Northern commerce, in these waters, was left at the 
beginning of the war pretty much to take care of 


itself. Yet it was the Government who were great 
sufferers in the case of the " Ariel." A captain of a 
Federal man of war was arrested, and over one hundred 
and forty marines with their officers, passengers for the 
Pacific squadron, were disarmed, and allowed to proceed 
only on parol. This, I take it, was almost as serious a 
loss to the Government as was Mr. Vanderbilt's 260,000 
dollar bond to him, and by which the ship was 
redeemed. If the " Alabama" had looked to the 
money value of her prize, the homeward-bound ship, 
mth, perhaps, a million of specie on board, would 
have given a better account of herself; in either case, 
however, the effect on the shippers would have been 
the same, for, as it was, a large portion of the future 
specie remittances found their way by the English 
steamer to the English market.* 

It is believed that the Pacific Mail Company will, 
on the expiration of their present contract with Mr. 
Vanderbilt, place steamers of their own on the 
Atlantic station ; if so, judging from the conduct of the 
service from Panama to San Francisco, the travelling 
public will be great gainers, and the route via New 
York to and from the Isthmus of Panama will, doubt- 
less, become as popular as it deserves to become. To 
those who wish to break the voyage to the Pacific 
and spend a few days in the United States, this route 
would be very desirable, if it were not, as at present, 
attended with so much discomfort. 

* These steamers used to carry to New York about a million of dollars 
each trip, which now finds its way to Europe by British vessels. 


It is also rumoured that Mr. Vanderbilt has lately 
withdrawn his interest from the Atlantic steamers, 
and that they are now in the hands of another 
management ; but as there is yet little visible im- 
provement in the treatment of the passengers, it is 
supposed by some that the change is merely nominal. 
But we are now at Colon. 

[ 119 ] 


The Island of Manzanilla. — Harbour of Colon. — Landing at Colon. — " City 
of Aspinwall." — Climate of Colon. — English and American Views of 
Colon. — Departure of the Trains. 

Colon, or, as tlie Americans have named it, after 
Mr. Aspinwall, the originator of the railroad, Aspin- 
wall, is the town which has sprung up within the last 
few years on the island of Manzanilla. It is now the 
Atlantic port of the Isthmus of Panama, having, since 
the establishment of the railroad, quite superseded 
Chagres, which had in its turn replaced Portobelo. 
The 'New Granadians call it Colon, after the great 
discoverer Columbus, and we in England generally 
call it Colon too. But for all practical purposes it is 
known, and as frequently called, by the American 
name of Aspinwall. On this question of the name 
even some Americans hold that the Yankees are 
wrong. " Aspinwall, as the Yankees insist upon 
calling it," says Dr. Tomes, '' with as much propriety 
as if the Irishmen should, in spite of the know- 
nothings, insist upon christening New York Kilkenny 
or Cork."* Certain it is that the Spanish name sounds 
more pleasingly to the ear, and one cannot wonder 

* " Panama in 1855," by R. Tomes. 


that the state authorities retain for their purposes their 
own title. 

The town may fairly date its origin from May, 
1850, but it was not until February, 1852, that it was 
formally inaugurated as a city ! so it is yet very young 
and very green, and has few attractions to the Euro- 
pean visitor. 

" The island on which Colon is built is about a mile 
in length and half a mile in width, extending north 
and south. The busy coral insect laid its founda- 
tion deep down into the depths of the sea, and is 
still hard at work, with so much success, that some 
fear an encroachment upon the conveniences of the 
harbour, though this is hardly possible in any period 
of time short of a geological era. Coral, in all its 
arborescent forms, can be picked up everywhere in 
abundance, together with the sponge, and many 
varieties of shells. The white beach, which bounds 
the seaward edge of the island, and in fact, the rail- 
road tract which skirts the same side of the town, are 
compact with the masonry of the little coral worm, 
which had built its wonderful structures, extended its 
endless subterranean passages, and erected its en- 
during palaces long before man had thought of his 
clumsy pathway of iron, and his flimsy pine-board city.' '* 

" A gradual accumulation of organic matter, thrown 
up by the perpetual tide of the Atlantic, aided by the 
unceasing activity of the winds and birds, and then 
spread over the solid foundation of coral, supplied a 

* " Panama in 1855," by Robert Tomes, New York. 


bed of ricli soil, from which sprang the rank vegeta- 
tion of tropical luxuriance. A forest, centuries old, 
covered the island, and the spreading mangrove, the 
mahogany tree, and the poisonous manzanilla, inter- 
laced with creeping vines, which hung their graceful 
festoons from bough to bough, overshadowed it with a 
perpetual shade, until civilization dispersed the dark 
cloud of growth impenetrable to the sun. The 
settlers have cleared a narrow space seaward, leaving 
here and there, in the town, the shade of a towering 
mangrove, or a grove of cocoa-nuts rustling upon the 
sea-shore; while, inland, the thickly-matted jungle of 
the manzanilla darkens the island and exhales its 
poisonous breath. "=^ 

The entrance to the harbour from the sea is, how- 
ever, very pretty, and impresses the traveller favour- 
ably after the monotony of the sea voyage. Columbus, 
the discoverer of the Atlantic coast, has the credit of 
having discovered this harbour, which is also called by 
two names. Navy Bay and Limon Bay; Navy Bay 
being the name given by the Spaniards. It is a little 
to the eastward, and about one and a half league from 
Chagres, and is situated between Chagres and the 
famous Portobelo. It is about three miles in depth, 
by two miles broad, being very much in the shape of 
a horseshoe. 

There is an average depth of water of seven fathoms, 
and apparently it is convenient for shipping, but it is 
considerably exposed to violent storms and northerly 

* " Panama in 1855," by Robert Tomes. 


winds at certain seasons. ** The chief liarbour is to 
the west, where the largest ships can anchor within a 
short distance of the shore, but such is the exposure to 
the fierce northers which occasionally blow, that no 
vessel is perfectly secure. The hazardous anchorage 
was sadly illustrated in 1855, when a fierce north wind 
blew in from the Atlantic, and swept the fleet of traders 
from their moorings, carrying a brig through the 
wooden pier, dashing a large vessel, from which no 
man escaped, upon the neighbouring shore, and strew- 
ing the beach with wrecks. The steamer " Illinois," 
then in dock, was only saved from destruction, of 
which she was in great peril, by hastily firing up, 
letting go her hawsers, and forcing herself with all the 
might of her engine, into the very teeth of the wind. 
The harbour will never be secure until a large break- 
water is built at the north-west of the island. There 
is a roadstead on the east of the island, where there is 
a considerable depth of water, but it is so little secure, 
that it does not deserve to be termed a harbour."* 

The moles or piers, and sea-walls, as well as ships 
lying in the harbour, suffer very seriously from this 
want of shelter, and will continue so to suffer, unless 
docks be made, or a breakwater, as suggested, be 
carried out. If the railway company get an extension 
of their contract, one or the other will probably be 
done ; but whether or no, the harbour of Colon will 
never be perfectly safe without it. In November, 
1862, again, ships were driven on shore, and moles 

* " Panama in 1855," by Robert Tomes. 


carried away, almost without an instant's warning, 
causing a great sacrifice of property. It was here that 
the Eoyal Mail Company lost their steamer " Avon," 
which was driven on a coral reef, even when she had 
steam up, and was preparing to go to sea with the 
homeward mails. This vessel had nearly a million of 
dollars, in treasure, on board, and also a large portion 
of her cargo. The treasure, as well as the cargo, was 
fortunately afterwards saved, but the ship became a 
complete wreck, and was soon afterwards sold by 
auction for about 300^. The loss of this fine ship 
could only be attributed to the insecure harbour of 
Colon. When apprised of the disaster of the strand- 
ing of the " Avon," the directors of the Eoyal Mail 
Company immediately directed an inquiry into cir- 
cumstances connected with it, and the court of inquiry 
acquitted the captain and officers of all blame. 
" Those who knew the character of the anchorage 
at Colon," said the report, " would see the justice of 
that decision. It was nothing else than an open 
roadstead, into which rollers of terrific character often 
set, without any previous warning. So it happened 
on the occasion on which the " Avon " was lost, for 
the rollers set in with such violence that it became 
utterly impossible to save the ship. At the time that 
the "Avon" went ashore, an American man-of-war, 
the ''Bainbridge," was also driving fast on shore, 
when a boat from the " Avon," manned by three 
officers, an engineer, and a fireman of that vessel, 
rescued the officers and men from the ship, though, as 


it happened, she remained at her anchors. The 
President of the United States felt so pleased with 
the assistance rendered by the men of the " Avon," 
that he sent presents of watches to the ofl&cers, and 
money to the firemen.* 

On this occasion, too, an English sailing vessel, and 
other ships and steamers lying in the harbour, had 
narrow escapes of being stranded. These are true and 
unmistakable drawbacks to the harbour of Colon ; 
but Captain Pim, writing of his own project, leads 
his readers to suppose, in addition, that the landing 
and embarkation at Colon must be effected by means 
of small boats. '' My project," he says, " is to connect 
Eealejo and Gorgon Bay by means of the iron road 
running from alongside the wharf in the one port, to a 
position close to the ocean steamer in the other, thus 
embarking and disembarking passengers and freight 
with an ease and rapidity far superior to the accommo- 
dation afforded either at Suez or Panama, where it is 
necessary to reach the shore in hoats^ take the train 
and re-embark in either small steamers or barges 
before the transfer from one ocean to the other is 

This statement is certainly incorrect, as far as it 
regards Colon, where the steamers, as a rale, lie along- 
side the wharves, and so land their passengers and 
discharge their cargo. As it is proposed to do no 

* Eeport of tlie Directors of tlie Eoyal Mail Steam Packet Company, 
May, 1863. 

t Pirn's *' Gate of the Pacifia" 


more than convey the passengers "in the one port to 
a position close to the ocean steamer," it does not 
appear that the new route, in this particular, offers 
much advantage over the Pamana route. 

One cannot but be impressed, on arrival at Colon, 
with the apparent harmony of nature in its wildest 
state, with modern civilization. Here may be observed, 
yet flourishing as before the visit of the Americans 
and their railway, the wild trees and fine cocoa-nut 
groves of the tropics, and in the very midst of the 
smoke and noise of the railway company's factory and 
steam-engine. Well might my fair countrywoman, on 
her arrival, ask what wild animal it was that was 

Once, however, the passenger steps on shore, the 
agreeable impressions fade, for Colon is in every respect 
one of those places to which distance lends enchant- 
ment. The town has some two hundred houses, built, 
with one or two exceptions, chiefly of wood, we are 
told in the railway company's hand-book, " in a style 
midway between the New England house and veran- 
daed structures usual in the tropics."* I confess I 
hardly know in what style this is ; but it is not, I 
take it, intended to imply that the Colon houses have 
much pretension either to the useful, comfortable, or 
beautiful. That they are comfortable, is a moral 
impossibility. No house can be comfortable for a 
tropical residence that is built of wood only ; but as I 
have said before. Colon is very young and very green. 

* " Hand-book of the Panama Kailroad." 


The houses are green, the trees are green, the streets 
are green, the surroundings are green, but greener still 
than all, are the persons, I think, who, having a 
choice, select Colon for a residence. 

The principal buildings are the offices, stores, and 
dwelling-houses necessary for the purposes of the 
railway company and its employes^ and the buildings 
that have most pretension belong to this company, 
while the others are constructed on ground leased 
from it. The Eoyal Mail Company have a corrugated 
iron house here, and an office of the same material, a 
very unsuitable material, I think, for such a place as 

The one principal street runs along the sea-shore. 
Here are to be found Yankee hotels as smart as paint 
and showy sign-boards can make them, and general 
provision and clothing stores on the one side, and the 
wharves or landing-stages for the shipping on the 
other. There are, too, smaller streets, or rather lanes, 
at the back, which are yet separated from the chief 
street by partly filled-up swamps and plank bridges. 
That Colon can be even tolerably healthy, so long as 
these swamps exist, is a matter of wonder to me ; but 
the Colon people think it is healthy, more healthy 
than Panama. 

A road has recently been made along the sea beach. 
This road winds, as it were, its course through, or 
alongside of, the wild forest trees which yet remain on 

* The Railroad Company have recently built a Protestant church at 
Colon, and this building is of stone. 


the island uncleared. It is the favourite paseo or 
promenade of the residents, as it is, indeed, their only 
one ; and when it can be enj oyed, it is certainly the 
most attractive part, to my taste, of Colon. 

Eain water is caught in large iron tanks during the 
wet season, for the supply of the shipping and inhabi- 
tants of Colon in the dry ; and, as the rains prevail 
for about eight months of the year, water, a,t least, is 
abundant. Provisions, with the exception of beef, fish, 
poultry, and tropical vegetables, are imported regularly 
from the United States and England — chiefly from the 
States. The town enjoys, too, at all times, an abun- 
dant supply of American ice, no small blessing this in 
a country with the thermometer always playing about 
between 70 and 90 degrees. 

The English language is now generally spoken here, 
even by the New Granadians, who make this place 
their residence ; but Colon is, of course, in fiction, if 
not in fact, under the Government, and subject to the 
laws of New Granada, and it politically forms part of 
the State of Panama. In addition to the local authori- 
ties, headed by a prefect, one finds here consular 
agents from England, France, Italy, and the United 
States ; and the place is made more important by its 
being the head-quarters, on the Isthmus, of the railway 
company. Here its chief officials and representatives 

The population comprises a great many Jamaica 
negroes, and may be estimated, in whites and blacks, 
at about 1,500 to 2,000 persons. 


There was, until ]864, no church here of any kind, 
but the railway company have a chaplain in their pay, 
who was, until 1864, the only Protestant minister on 
the Isthmus. The Bishop of Honolulu, on his way to 
the Sandwich Islands, endeavoured to do some little 
good here, in the way of marrying and christening, 
but I am afraid the lower orders of the Colon people 
are a stray flock. 

Colon is chiefly supported by the passengers passing 
over the Isthmus, and by the requirements of the ship- 
ping. The local trade is almost nominal. The arrival 
of the steamer from New York and California are 
equally advantageous for Colon, as it is at this place 
that the American passengers are always detained to 
await the convenience of the tide at Panama, and other 
circumstances attending the connection. 

On these occasions " the population is doubled by 
the new comers ; the hotels, deserted the day before, 
are thronged, and mine hosts awakened once more to 
the consciousness of their functions of taking-in people. 
Bar-rooms again reek with an atmosphere of gin-sling 
and brandy cock-tail, which the busy bilious-faced 
bar-keeper, only yesterday prostrate with fever, shuffles 
across the counter in a quick succession of drinks to 
his throng of impatient, thirsty customers ; billiard- 
balls, temporarily stowed away in pockets, begin to 
circulate, driven by the full force of sturdy red-flannel- 
sleeved arms ; the shops flutter out in the breeze their 
display of Panama hats, and loose linen garments, and 
adding a hundred per cent, to their prices, do a brisk 


business : the very monkeys quicken tlieir agility, the 
parrots chatter with redoubled loquacity, the macaws 
shriek sharper than ever, the wild hogs, ant-eaters, and 
even the sloths (for all these zoological varieties abound 
in the hotels and shops of Aspinwall), are aroused to 
unwonted animation."* 

" What a contrast does not Aspinwall or Colon, as 
we Britishers persist in calling it, present to the 
tottering cities along theses coasts. Here is a little 
town of yesterday springing up like a mushroom^ 
gleaming at all points with genuyne Yankee preco* 
city and energy, unassisted by state aid, but neverthe- 
less shooting ahead from the mere wholesome stimulus 
of private enterprise, there are wharves and stores and 
offices, and restaurants and hotels tenanted by sharp*- 
visaged, keen-witted tenants^ who do not wait listlessly 
at their doors, but who emulate each other in way- 
laying_, coaxing and wheedling it with all the earnestness 
of down-east blarney. The luxuries and amusements 
of old-country life may be enjoyed there too ; Wenham 
lake ice, and Thurston's billiard tables are in full- 
blown existence at this new location, and a crowning 
proof of enterprising promptitude may be seen perched 
on the points of some tall scaffolding in the shape of 
an extemporized lighthouse. "f 

The above, which I have transcribed from descrip- 
tions of Colon six and ten years ago, might almost in 
every particular serve for to-day* The only differ- 

* "Panamdml855." 
t " Daily News," Dec* 27, 1858. Article, " Southampton to Acapulco.'^ 



ence is that passengers do not generally remain there 
so long now as they formerly did, but on the other 
hand the arrivals are more frequent. 

The new " city" has been on two or three occasions 
nearly destroyed by fire, and again so late as July 
1864, it was in a few hours half burned down, the dry 
pine board houses offering no resistance to the flames. 
But with that energy which raised a town on what a 
few years ago was a forest swamp, new buildings are 
speedily erected, and one almost seeks in vain for 
traces of the fire which had burnt the unhappy re- 
sidents out of house and home. With all these fires 
there is not even a fire-engine at Colon. 

Among the improvements at present carried on at 
Colon is the construction of three fine new wharves 
built on iron piles, two of which are for the railroad 
company, and one for the Eoyal Mail Steam Packet 
Company. The latter will be upwards of four hun- 
dred feet in length.* 

The following observations, respecting the climate 
of Colon, were taken by the Panama Eailroad Com- 
pany's Physician, Dr. White, during the year 1863, 
and may be relied upon : — 

* Panama " Star and Herald," Feb. 5, 1865. 










O f 


O 1 


January . . 





February . 





March . . 





April . . . 





May . . . 





June . . . 





July . . . 





August . . 





September . 





October . . 





November . 





December . 





Eain during the year 136*96 inches. 

Mean temperature . . . . « 78^*2' 

Highest . 90°-5' 

Lowest 67°-3' 

It has been remarked that the climate on the 
Atlantic side of the Isthmus is more humid and 
variable than on the Pacific, which is drier, warmer 
and more uniform, and that there is a great difference 
in the quantity of rain which falls during the year 
over each locality, the quantity at Colon being much 
in excess of that at Panama. 

The annexed table shows the quantity of rain fall- 
ing at Colon during the years 1861 and 1862. 





January . 

. 3-91 



. 2-31 


March . 

. 2-88 



. 3-61 


May . 

. 19-01 



. 19-28 

. . 

K 2 






July . . 

. 13-82 

. . 

August* . 

. 14-99 

, , 


. 9-62 


October . 

. 7-10 



. 26-80 



. 18-80 


The foregoing accounts of Colon, to the American 
ear, will hardly appear just, while to those Englishmen 
who have visited the place they will, I am sure, appear 
too flattering. It is a difficult course to steer midway 
between such high lands and low lands as the following 
recent descriptions which have appeared of Colon — one 
from an American, one from an English pen : 

The " Paseo-Coral," says the American author,t "as 
this beautiful walk or drive is called, was built by the 
citizens of Aspinwall, every facility and aid being 
rendered by the railroad company ; and morning and 
evening, especially on Sundays and holidays, it is a 
favourite resort of the inhabitants of all classes, a few 
on horseback or in light waggons, but the great 
majority on foot. Any lover of the beautiful in nature 
will find it worth his while to make a tour of this 
' Paseo.' On one side, charming glimpses of the ocean 
and of the ' Archipelago ' (which cuts off the Island of 
Manzanilla from the mainland) meet the eye at every 
turn, and at almost every point the conchologist may 
step out upon the coral reef and find sea shells, fans, 
and coral to an indefinite extent. On the other, a 

* Observations omitted in June, July, and August, 1862. 
t Dr. Otis, " Handbook of the Panama Railroad." 


great variety of tropical vegetation invites tlie lover of 
botany to cull from its varied and luxuriant growth. 
Here and there narrow paths lead from it to little 
native plantations of banana, papaya, and yam, im- 
bedded in which the native hut, with its severely 
simple furnishing, may be seen, and will convey to 
the traveller an idea of the habits and character of the 
native inhabitants of this country." 

" A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," 
says the British author,"^ " and Colon, or Aspinwall, 
will be equally vile whatever you may call it. It is a 
wretched, unhealthy, miserably-situated, but thriving 
little American town, created by and for the railway 
and passenger traflB.c, which comes here both from 
Southampton and New York. ... I visited the 
place three times, for I passed over the Isthmus on my 
way to Costa Eica ; and, on my return from that 
country, I went again to Panama, and, of course, back 
to Colon. I can say nothing in its favour." f 

I have said that it is a difficult course to steer 
between the English and American taste respecting 
Colon. In the short description I have given of it, I 
have endeavoured to steer that course. But I have also 
endeavoured to describe the place faithfully. That the 
Americans, and particularly the railroad people, should 
see Aspinwall in a brighter light than others do is 
natural, for they almost look upon the place as a 
colony of their own, and, as our British author tells 
us, *' their energy and their money and their habits 

* Anthony Trollope, " West Indies and Spanish Main." f Ibid. 


are undoubtedly in the ascendant."* And so " Aspin- 
wallers" are attached to their small spot of swamp, 
*'0h, it's very superior to Panama" (Panama is the 
rival city) . *^ It is decidedly healthier, decidedly cooler, 
decidedly clean er."t 

I think I have now done Colon (if I have not done 
justice to it), but for those who care to know what the 
conspicuous iron building which attracts attention on 
landing is, and generally contains, the annexed account, 
quoted in the handbook of the railroad (a useful little 
book published in 1861), may be interesting. It will, 
at all events, give some idea of the nature of the 
articles which find their way across the isthmus. 

" This is the freight depot of the Panama Railway 
Company, and the following description by a recent 
visitor w^ill give the traveller an idea of its usual 
internal appearance : 

" ' Bales of quina bark from the interior were piled 
many tiers deep, and reached the iron triangular- 
braced roof of the edifice. Ceroons of indigo and 
cochineal from San Salvador and Guatemala ; cofiee 
from Costa Rica, and cocoa from Ecuador ; sarsaparilla 
from Nicaragua, and ivory-nuts from Portobelo; 
copper ore from Bolivia ; silver bars from Chili ; boxes 
of hard dollars from Mexico, and gold ore from Cali- 
fornia ; hides from the whole range of the North and 
South Pacific coast ; hundreds of bushels of glistening 
pearl oyster shells from the fisheries of Panama lay 

* Anthony Trollope, " West Indies and Spanish Main." 

t "Panama as a Home," in "All the Year Round," May 9, 1863. 


heaped along the floor, flanked by no end of North 
American beef, pork, flour, bread, and cheese, for the 
provisioning of the Pacific coast, and English and 
French goods for the same market ; while in a train 
of cattle cars that stood on one of the tracks were 
huddled about a hundred meek-looking lamas from 
Peru, on their way to the Island of Cuba, among 
whose mountains they are used for beasts of burden as 
well as for their wool.' Its situation is on the direct 
line of the road, its seaward side opening by great 
doors out upon the waters of the bay, so as to allow 
vessels of light tonnage to discharge cargo directly 
into the depot, while a covered wharf extends from the 
centre into six fathoms of water."* 

Let the traveller arrive, however, when he may, 
unless he is really disposed to remain a day at Colon, 
he will hardly have time for more than a passing 
acquaintance with it, for the .passenger trains, which 
ordinarily run only once or twice daily, are now 
arranged to meet the requirements of every traffic, 
and start shortly after the arrival of every steamer 
bringing passengers for Panama, and, from three to 
four hours after the train leaves, the traveller may 
find himself either safely on board his ship in the 
Pacific, or in very tolerable quarters in his hotel at 

* " Handbook of the Panama Railroad." 



Kailway Fare. — Travellers' Luggage. — Improvement of the Railway. — 
Isthmus Scenery. — Crossing the Isthmus in 1853. — Crossing the Isthmus 
in old times. — Arrival of the Americans. 

The railway fare is twenty-five dollars (about £5), 
and there is an extra charge of ^ve cents a pound for 
luggage in excess of 50 lbs. in weight. This appears 
a great deal, and doubtless is a high fare for forty- 
seven and a half miles' travel by railway, but it is a 
flea-bite to what was paid in former days for the 
isthmus transit. The company, too, are very liberal 
in granting free passages ; and although they do not 
reducetheir fares to so low a figure as outsiders think 
they might, they often help along with a free passage a 
poor fellow who stands truly in need of it, while naval 
ofiicers of all countries, scientific men, and authorities 
resident on the Isthmus are handed " complimentary 
cards," for their passage across when they desire it, 
with a liberality, I should think, unequalled by any 
railway company in the world.* Naval officers, how- 
ever, going backwards and forwards at the expense 
of their country, are expected to say so, and pay their 

* I take this opportunity to express my own acknowledgments for the 
many acts of courtesy which I have personally received from the managers 
of the company. 


fares. Boxes of clothes and instruments for British 
naval officers on the Pacific station are also transmitted 
over the line, free of cost, to their owners ; so we Eng- 
lishmen must not particularly complain on the score 
of tlie high charge. Indeed, it somehow happens that, 
if people can go thus far from their homes, they can 
get over the railroad part of the expenses of the journey 
without coming to a stand-still ; and this, I suppose, 
the directors know. The charges, of course, tell most 
heavily on the American passengers, for they are many 
to our one. Perhaps some fine day they may grumble, 
and perhaps then the fares may become lower ; and, 
whenever they are lower for the Americans they will 
be lower for us. There is no distinction of classes for 
the general passengers — everybody pays the same fare 
and occupies the same carriage. This rule, I believe, 
is invariably observed in America, and the Panama 
railroad in its management is essentially American. 
The charge for luggage, however, tells probably more 
on the people of all other nations than it does on 
Americans. The wonderfully small quantity of luggage 
with which the generality of Americans appear capable 
of travelling is astonishing, and may almost be quoted 
as an institution. It is the British female, with twenty- 
five boxes and sundry small parcels, who here " pays 
the piper." This question of luggage is a very serious 
one for the consideration of travellers in this part of 
the world. I really think the Americans understand 
these things better than we do. I presume the hotel 
life they live, and the often not having a place to 


hoard up useless tilings in, contributes in a great 
measure to this. But I do not think that English 
ladies generally are, with all their luggage, better 
dressed, or even so well dressed, when travelling so 
far from home, as American ladies are. In fact, Eng- 
lish ladies never seem to me to be able to get at any- 
thing, while American ladies seem to have nothing that 
they cannot get at. These remarks are offered in all 
humility by one who loves to see his countrywomen 
the best and most properly-dressed people, abroad, 
as they are in their own homes — but by one who can- 
not stand a dirty, faded, used-up, fine drawing-room 
dress, upon the plea that it is " good enough for the 
voyage." I must confess, however, that this subject 
of luggage, or, as the Americans call it, baggage, is a 
weak point of mine — I am afraid, a very weak point ; 
and as it is the case generally when persons have weak 
points to maintain, that they are particularly obstinate 
upon them, I am particularly obstinate upon this point. 
I believe I have even had more difference of opinion 
with my own wife, and feminine friends generally, upon 
it, than upon any other subject ; and I am sure I have 
had more differences of opinion with cabmen upon it 
than I have had with any other class of men upon any 
subject. But, in this generation, I fear, reform with us 
is hopeless. Never shall I forget what I had to under- 
go with regard to luggage only the last time I was in 
London. We — my wife and myself — were invited to 
spend three nights at a friend's house a few miles out 
of town, and we had the temerity to take between us 


only one average -sized portmanteau, a small tin box, 
and my wife's dressing-case. " Is this all your luggage, 
sir ?" said the coachman who met us at the railway 
station. '' Is this all your luggage, sir ?" inquired the 
servant who carried our traps up-stairs. " Is this all 
your luggage, ma'am ?" said the maid who showed my 
wife into her room. I never in my life felt so guilty. 
I would have almost given up my crotchet, and any- 
thing that I possessed at that moment, for a large 
box upon which I could have stuck an address-card. 
And yet it was very hard. The portmanteau and box 
carried capitally all we required ; in fact, more than we 
required. For myself, I took back clean shirts to 
London ; and I trust I am not given to shirts that are 
not clean. Yet we had evidently done something 
very shocking, if not very wicked, in only taking with 
us as much luggage as we required, and as much as, 
in addition to our two selves, the one horse which drew 
us to the railway, from one end of London to the 
other, could conveniently carry. 

The Panama Eailway Company have a capital plan 
with regard to luggage — one which, I think, we in 
England might adopt with great advantage. A check 
or receipt is given to every passenger for the exact 
number of his packages, or of the packages which one 
cannot take into the carriage with him, and on arrival 
at the destination the packages are returned in con- 
formity with this check. The operation, as managed 
on the Isthmus, is very quickly got over, and all the con- 
fusion of people scrambling for their own things, as in 


England, is avoided. Every package, for instance, 
belonging to Mr. Smith is numbered, in blue chalk, 49, 
and Mr. Smith receives a check numbered 49, by 
which he claims his effects. I recommended the 
adoption of this system, some years ago, on board the 
South Pacific steamers, and it has answered admirably. 
The practice in France is somewhat similar, but much 
more tedious. On the Isthmus it is not tedious 
at all. 

The carriages used on the railroad are constructed 
on the American principle, with jointed seats, and 
central passages ; and at the sides of the carriages are 
Venetian blinds, which can be lowered or closed at 
will. The backs and bottoms of the seats are made of 
open cane-work, and the carriages are free from 
padding or cushions of any kind, which enables them 
to be cleaned with greater facility. The officials of 
the line are nearly all Americans. 

Captain Pim, who has written more about the 
Panama Eailway than any one lately, informs his 
readers that " the charge for freight is on the same 
high scale as the passenger traffic." He says : 
" Take, for example, live stock : cattle, by passenger 
train, exactly the same as passengers ; sheep, by 
passenger train, owner's risk, twelve dollars and a 
half each, the same as a child under twelve years of 
age. * 

In order that my readers may see for themselves 
what the charges of the railway company really are, 

* "The Gate of the Pacific." 


I insert in this book a copy of the company's tariff. 
In the above paragraph the author of '' The Gate of 
the Pacific " has been evidently carried away by his 
enthusiasm for a new route. By a perusal of the 
company's tariff, it will be seen that the above-men* 
tioned high charges for cattle by passenger trains are 
merely fixed to exclude animals from passenger trains. 
The ordinary charge for stock is, for cattle, five 
dollars, and for pigs two dollars each. We can afford 
to play fairly; the company's tariff is high enough^ 
without exaggeration, for all argument. 

A correspondent of " The Daily News " ^ says, per- 
haps correctly, that " In the old country the Panama 
Eailroad is regarded as a sort of make-shift affair, laid 
in hot haste over miasmatic quagmires^ on crazy piles, 
or sliding along steep hill-sides or yawning ravines at 
a slant or angle of forty-five degrees, with creaking 
bridges, inferior cars, and cashiered engines." But 
this opinion, however it might have been merited at 
first, is certainly not merited now. The road has, 
year by year, been improved; and the accidents which 
at first occurred occasionally, from the train running 
off the track, and from the newly-formed road giving 
way, are now no longer to be feared. The company 
keep constantly employed large bodies of labourers in 
breaking stones for the re-ballasting of the road as it 
becomes necessary, so that every year it is firmer and 
more secure. Accidents indeed are now of very rare 


* Dec. 27, 1858, " Southampton to Acapulco." 


As before sliown, the Panama Eailroad has been 
in regular and successful operation for ten years, 
having been organized in February, 1855. Its capa- 
city for every description of business has been 
fully tested. Not only are the ordinary kinds of 
merchandise, and the various productions of the 
Pacific, constantly transported over the road, but also 
articles of the coarsest and heaviest description, such 
as the following — coal, guano, lumber timber, anchors 
and chains of the largest size, cannon shot, shells, 
ores, ironwork in pieces, weighing twenty-five tons ; 
heavy machinery, iron launches (and even steamers in 
compartments), whale-oil, &c., together with every 
variety of Pacific produce. * 

The principal part of the route by railway lies 
through the midst of a tropical forest, and the scenery 
is, of the kind, of the wildest and most picturesque 
description. There are several small stations between 
Colon and Panama, at which, however, the trains only 
stop for the purposes of the Company, and for receiving 
supplies of wood for fuel; they are simply small 
native villages or places of residence for the employes 
of the railway company. The traveller crossing the 
Isthmus for the first time cannot fail to be impressed 
with the greatness of the enterprise which has thus 
placed a tolerably good railway in the very midst of a 
wild, comparatively unknown, and almost impassable 

* Private letter, afterwards published, from the President of the 
" Panama Fi,ailroad Company," to one of the Directors. 


But if little has been written about Panama gene- 
rally, descriptions are not wanting of the glorious 
scenery of the passage across the Isthmus. It would 
be superfluous to add descriptions to the number of 
those already published. I will rather select one or 
two for the reader's information. 

As Irving tells us in his "Life of Columbus," 
" There is a wonderful splendour, variety, and luxu- 
riance in the vegetation of those quick and ardent 
climates. The verdure of the groves and the colours 
of the flowers and blossoms derive a vividness from 
the transparent purity of the air, and the deep serenity 
of the azure heavens. The forests, too, are full of 
life, swarming with birds of brilliant plumage. 
Painted varieties of parrots and woodpeckers create a 
glitter amidst the verdure of the grove ; and the 
humming-birds rove from flower to flower, resembling, 
as has been well said, animated particles of a rainbow. 
Nor is the least beautiful part of animated nature the 
various tribes of insects peopling every plant, dis- 
playing brilliant coats-of-mail which sparkle like 
precious gems."* ^ 

" When once the deadly swamp -is passed, nothing 
can exceed the beauty of the vegetation through 
which the line passes. Palm-trees of many varieties 
weave their broad leaves into thick screens, to shut 
out the sun; tufts of bamboo are interspersed with 
heavy trees, whose branches support gigantic orchids, 
and whose stems are concealed amid a mass of purple 
* Irving's " Life of Columbus." 


convolvulus and divers brilliant parasites. To one 
only accustomed to see a thickly-populated and highly- 
cultivated country traversed by railways, and familiar 
with tropical jungles only when they are penetrated 
by the devious little paths of the wood-cutter, or the 
hunter, this dash through the virgin forest at the tail 
of a locomotive is very imposing, and presents with 
unusual force to the mind the important change which 
steam is destined to effect on the face of nature." * 

" Now this I will maintain," says another account, 
*' that you may travel far and wide before you will see 
stranger, wilder, finer forest scenery and vegetation 
than that of the Panama Isthmus, as you tear through 
a vast silent forest, where giant trees, compared to 
which our largest English oaks are as toys ; where 
the mango, the guava, the palm, untouched by man's 
hand, grow and produce and reproduce, till millions 
and millions multiply ; truly, the sight of God's work 
and man's labour brought into such strange, in- 
congruous contact gives rise to new and stirring 

T By this passage the New World, cut in half, has 
been, as it were, united — not without hard, fearfal 
labour, struggle, and death. The road was strewed 
with dead labourers — victims of fever, exhaustion, 
suicide — -like a battlefield. An object was gained 
through bloodshed, as battles are gained. It is a 
solemn thought, when one passes through." f 

* Mr. Oliphant's description quoted in the " The Gate of the Pacific." 
t " Panama as a Home," in " All the Year Bound," May 9, 1863. 


"When a traveller, newly arrived from Europe, 
penetrates for the first time into the forests of South 
America, Nature presents herself to his view in an 
unexpected aspect ; the objects by which he is sur- 
rounded bear but a faint resemblance to the pictures 
drawn by celebrated writers on the banks of the Mis- 
sissippi, in Florida, and other temperate regions of 
the New World. He perceives at every step that he 
is not upon the verge, but in the centre of the torrid 

zone If he be sensible to the beauties of 

rural scenery, he finds it difficult to account to himself 
for the diversified feelings which he experiences ; he is 
unable to determine what most excites his admiration ; 
whether the solemn silence of the wilderness, or the 
individual beauty and contrast of the forms, or the 
vigour and freshness of vegetable life, that charac- 
terizes the climate of the tropics. It might be said 
that the earth, overloaded with plants, does not leave 
them room enough for growth. The trunks of the 
trees are everywhere covered with a thick carpet of 
verdure ; and were the orchidaceae and the plants of the 
genera piper and pothos which grow upon a single 
courbaril or American fig-tree, transferred to the 
ground, they would cover a large space. By this 
singular denseness of vegetation, the forests, like the 
rocks and mountains, enlarge the domain of organic 
nature. The same lianas which creep along the ground 
rise to the tops of the trees, and pass from one to the 
other, at the height of more than a hundred feet." * 

* « Humboldt's Travels." 



All this one is happily enabled to realise now on 
the Isthmus, with no greater fatigue than that of 
sitting for two or three hours in a railway carriage. 
But that the traveller may form some idea of the 
previous difficulties of the transit across the Isthmus, 
I may give my own experience of it, no later back 
than the year 1858. I extract this from my journal, 
written at that time, and I wrote then, as I do now, 
without exaggeration. The traveller who finds him- 
self comfortably carried across the Isthmus in a com- 
paratively cool railway carriage, will hardly be able to 
form an idea of the fatigue, annoyance, and expense of 
crossing in " old times ;" and, as I have said, the ac- 
count of my experiences is no exaggerated account of 
what had to be undergone by passengers even ten or 
twelve years ago. Yet even then thousands of men, 
ay, and delicate women and young children, were ex- 
posed to the dangers of the Isthmus transit. 

We anchored in Navy or Limon Bay, at Colon, 
alias Aspinwall, and at all events the Atlantic port of 
the Isthmus of Panama, and our port of disembarca- 
tipn. After a very early and hurried breakfast we left 
the good ship, which had brought us thus far safely, 
for the miserable town now rising out of a swamp, and 
struggling for a new name ; a place, however, of 
growing importance, in consequence of the rapidly- 
increasing traffic across the Isthmus of Panama. It 
is, and is to be, the Atlantic terminus of the railway 
now being constructed, and at present it supports 
three or four so-called hotels ; while buildings as osten- 


tatious as painted wood and large sign-boards can 
make them, are fast appearing in what a few months 
ago was an almost uninhabitable swampy island. 

We found here, too, a British vice-consul, who had 
removed from the old port of Chagres, and who had his 
office on the top of one of the several '' medical stores," 
which the unhealthy climate and bad Hquors of the 
"drinking saloons" doubtless lucratively supported. 
Here, too, we began to learn the value of a dollar, and 
the free Jamaica negroes' estimate of service equivalent 
to that coin ; indeed everything, as may be supposed, 
is enormously dear, and a great many shillings have 
to be expended before one gets one's luggage removed 
from the landing to the railway car, a distance of a 
few yards 

We had the privilege to leave this unattractive 
spot by a train at nine a.m., and after frequent stopping 
to take in supplies of wood, that being the fuel 
consumed, we arrived at Barbacoas at about noon, 
having left at a village of huts called Gatun, a large 
number of native labourers from Carthagena, who had 
been sent down in the steamer with us under contract 
to the railway company ; and here at Barbacoas twenty 
or thirty huts served as sleeping and feeding places for 
the workmen. A gentleman who is employed by the 
railway company to procure men from Carthagena to 
work on the line, told me that he had himself sent 
down about 8,000 of these labourers ; and that had 
the company been dependent on other labour the rail- 
way never could have been thus far completed. 

L 2 


Europeans, Coolies, Chinese, and even Jamaica ne- 
groes, were all found unable to stand the climate and 
the work;" for, as the company's hand-book has since 
well expressed it — 

"The first thirteen miles beginning at Navy 
Bay, was through a deep morass covered with the 
densest jungle, reeking with malaria, and abounding 
with almost every species of wild beasts, noxious 
reptiles, and venomous insects known in the 
tropics." * 

The railway is built for a long distance on piles 
driven into the swamp, and it is reckoned that the 
life of one man was lost for every pile driven in ; but 
I heard another calculation of one man for every foot 
of ground. Be this as it may, it is in every respect a 
wonderful undertaking in such a climate ; for miles, it 
seems to me, we have been literally running through a 
swamp, and it will be only by great labour and after 
many months, that the stability of the line can be 
maintained by filling in with earth and stones between 
the piles. But this process, in course of time, will 
render the road independent of the piles. The scenery 
on either side is very attractive, and gives one the idea 
of a ramble through an unknown tropical forest, with- 
out the fatigue attending such a pursuit ; for although 
the busy train has thus far left nothing in its path 
that could impede its progress, it has removed or 
interfered with but little beyond its own immediate 
dominions. The distance from Colon to Barbacoas is 

* " Handbook of the Panamd Kailroad." 


231 miles, and the railway fare is eiglit dollars {IL 125.), 
with an extra charge for luggage. 

At Barbacoas we made up a party of fourteen, 
including some ladies, and hired a canoe to convey us 
to Gorgona, on the Chagres Eiver, and our next stage ; 
for this we paid four dollars (16s.) each person, and after 
an attempt at refreshment, which cost another dollar, 
and paying 'just one more dollar' to have our luggage 
put into the boat (although we had previously paid to 
have it brought from the train to the water's edge), 
we started on our trip. We were poled along the 
river by five native boatmen, whose dress was of that 
Hght description which approaches to " airy nothing." 
The men, however, worked well, refreshing themselves 
now and then by floundering into the bright stream, 
returning to their work without the preliminary of 
towels. We were fortunate in having for our journey 
a lovely day, and a good-sized, tolerably comfortable 
boat, which was nicely shaded from the sun by awn- 
ings and curtains ; so the afternoon was spent plea- 
santly enough; now in concocting and drinking re- 
freshing beverages, under the direction of an Italian 
lady, a great hand at that art ; now in trying our 
pistols at the wild turkey and water-fowl that pre- 
sented itself. The Chagres Eiver, as far as we tra- 
versed it, was interesting and pretty. The stream was 
brisk and clear, and was shaded nearly the whole way 
by the luxuriant trees and pretty orchids of the tropics, 
and we happily escaped with only one or two smart 
showers during the trip. 


We arrived at Gorgona, a small native village, about 
thirty-five miles from the Atlantic, between five and six 
in the evening, and as it was then too late to go on to 
Cruces by boat, we were compelled to make up our 
minds, and, as it turned out, our beds too, to spend the 
night at Gorgona. Here four or five wooden houses, 
bearing large sign-boards, offering hospitality and ac- 
commodation to travellers, struggled for our patronage, 
but, as we afterwards found, this accommodation ex- 
tended little beyond the outside declaration ; indeed, a 
more dirty, disagreeable, uncomfortable place to pass a 
night in, would with difficulty be found in the high- 
way of modern travel. 

We selected, " faute de mieux," the Union Hotel, and 
after paying more dollars to have our luggage con- 
veyed from the boat thither, we sat down with ravenous 
appetites to doubtful eggs, the hardest of hard Yankee 
ham, rice, and preserved cranberries ; and from all 
such fare may I be preserved in future ! Hunger, 
however, knows no laws. We had not made a regular 
or an eatable meal since our last dinner on board the 
West India steamer, so this fare, bad as it was, was 
acceptable. The place contained a few stores and 
more drinking " saloons," which were principally kept 
by the '' enterprising Yankee." The Gorgona road to 
Panama was just then open, it being passable only in 
the dry season, and it was estimated that two thousand 
persons had passed through this place during the last 
week on their w^ay to or from California. I noticed 
here one sign-board, the position of which struck me 

CROssma the isthmus in isss. isi 

as peculiarly a propos to the true state of tilings ; it 
was that of the '' Traveller's Home," and either by 
accident or design, the board was hanging upside 
down! After our meal, we took a stroll over the 
village to arrange the preliminaries for our departure 
in the morning, and one of my companions, an officer 
in the navy, who was proceeding to the Pacific to join 
his ship, found that a new trunk which he had brought 
from England was too large to be conveyed by mule 
to Panama. It had cost him 5/.in London, and seven 
dollars (1/. 85.) to get it thus far on the road; but 
there was no help for it, he had to sell it here for four 
dollars (165.)^ and pay a dollar more for a packing- 
needle to sew his traps up in blankets, which blankets 
cost some dollars more. 

We decided to take the Gorgona road, and arranged 
to have saddle mules ready early in the morning, to 
convey us to Panama for 20 dollars (4/.) each, and to 
pay 16^ cents., or ^d. a pound additional, for the con- 
veyance of our luggage. Having settled these im- 
portant details, paid down the cash, and given up our 
luggage, except that which could be strung to our 
saddles, we went to inspect a " free ball," which had 
been got up with all available splendour in celebration 
of some feast, and here we had a rare opportunity of 
seeing assembled many shades of colour in the human 
face divine ; a gorgeous display of native jewellery, and 
not the most happy mixture of bright colours in the 
toilettes of those who claimed to be the " fair sex." 
Dancing, however, and drinking, too, seemed to be kept 


up with no lack of spirit and energy, to the unhar- 
monious combination of a fiddle and a drum ; and those 
of the assembly whose tastes led them to quieter pur- 
suits, had the opportunity of losing at adjoining 
gambling-tables the dollars they had so easily and 
quickly extracted from the travellers who had had 
occasion to avail themselves of their services. These 
tables, too, were kept by the " enterprising Yankee." 
Having seen all this, and smoked out our cigars, we 
sought our beds, when we found for each a shelf or 
" bunk" in a room which our host boasted had, at a 
push, contained twenty-five or thirty persons. We 
luckily were fewer, and the fatigue of our journey 
sent " soft slumbers" to aid us to forget our present 
cares and wants, and prepare us for the morrow. 

On awaking at daylight, I found a basin and a 
pail of water set out in the open air on an old piano- 
forte, which some rash traveller had probably been 
tempted to bring thus far on the road, and, as its in- 
terior would not conveniently sew up in blankets like 
the contents of my friend E. N.'s box, it had become 
so far reduced in circumstances as to serve as our 
wash-hand stand. I at once proceeded to make a most 
refreshing open-air toilette, and after a breakfast of 
the same nature as our supper, we mounted our mules 
for our onward journey. 

It was a strange scene that starting from Gorgona, 
and reminded me of the famous start of good John 
Gilpin. But there was no fear of our steeds bolting 
with us. They had only arrived from Panama the 


night before, and any animal less stupid than a mule 
would have flatly refused the journey now. For us, 
" necessitas non habet legem." And all honour must 
be given to the Isthmus mules, notwithstanding their 
stupidity, for the good service these hard-working, sure- 
footed animals did, in days gone by, and did then, under 
bad food and worse treatment. 

Our party was now broken up, and with only six of 
my old companions, a small despatch-case, a bag, and 
a soda-water bottle of brandy tied to the saddle, I bade 
farewell to the shades of Gorgona, at seven a.m. The 
brandy was the last of the good things of the ship, 
and the only provision which I was induced to take, 
although in those days the West India steamers pro- 
vided pic-nic packages for the Isthmus travellers. 

We had not proceeded more than a mile on our road 
before we overtook an Italian of our yesterday's party, 
with his wife and daughter, all walking ; the two latter 
being afraid to ride the mules they had hired, and 
which followed them, led by the guides. 

The road, a- narrow bridle-path through the forest, 
was bad beyond description ; in many places the mud 
was so deep that it covered the legs of both mule and 
rider, while those who were not thrown off into it, were 
frequently obliged to unseat themselves to allow the 
animal to get out of it. The weather was excessively 
hot, although we had several heavy showers of rain 
during the day, and we could seldom get our mules 
out of a slow walk; for even those who were most 
successful, were obliged to stop for some of the party 


lagging behind, hence the ride was toilsome and tire- 
some in the extreme. 

One old Englishman of our party who was very stout, 
and, consequently, very heavy, was continually either 
throwing his unfortunate animal down or falling off 
himself, so that it was utterly impossible to get on 
with anything like speed; and to mend matters, to- 
wards the afternoon an irascible gentleman lost a bag 
from his saddle, containing, among other valuables, his 
letters of credit ; and when, after a long search, the 
bag was found by a native (who was rewarded by a 
couple of dollars), the important papers were missing. 
This very nearly led to a " row," for pistols and bowie- 
knives were produced; but as the missing papers 
actually turned up afterwards, it was only another 
cause of delay. But after more or less interruption, 
we at last arrived at a hut called the " True-half- way- 
house," and it being then six o'clock, we were obliged 
to halt for the night, giving our mules in charge of 
two guides who had accompanied us. 

Again we sat down to supper, tired, hungry and 
dirty ; and again hard ham, bad eggs, and cranberries. 
The ^' house" as it was called, had been newly built, 
having for walls nothing but fir poles about three 
inches apart, and for a roof out-stretched canvas. The 
establishment comprised an Irishman, a Frenchman, 
and two Americans. There were several pigs, too, 
running about, and one fine turkey, but no other hut 
or habitation near. One of my companions, a German, 
caused much amusement by asking for a boot-jack, and 


aspiring to have his muddy boots cleaned. Being 
tired and stiff from sitting all day in the saddle, I 
smoked my dear Havana and turned again into a bunk, 
where I soon fell asleep and became food for mosquitoes. 
I awoke at day-break, and arousing our landlord, who 
slept above me, and my German friend, who^ after 
having bathed his body in a pie-dish of brandy, had 
reposed below me, we soon got ready for breakfast, 
and got breakfast ready for us. Oh ! for the Grorgona 
pail of water and pianoforte ! Alas, I was only allowed 
to dash a teacupfal of water in my poor mosquito- 
bitten face, for water here was a luxury. As the 
coffee and tea were kept in saucepans on the fire during 
the night^, we had not long to wait for our meal ; again 
hard ham_, hard biscuit, and by way of a change, onions 
and treacle 1 Having paid for this " accommodation" 
two and a half dollars (105.) we started in search 
of our mules, which we had been compelled to pay for 
beforehand, and found to our dismay that the guides 
had made off with them during the night. Nothing 
then remained for it but to walk the rest of the 
distance to Panama in about twelve miles of mud, and 
what was even less agreeable, carry those of our traps 
which we had brought with us. 

It was about half-past six o'clock when we left the 
" True-haLf-way-house," which we afterwards learned 
was one mile nearer to Panama than half-way from 
Grorgona. The road, although very rough and bad, 
was a vast improvement upon that we had traversed 
on the previous day ; but the morning sun was ex- 


tremely hot, and the heat of the whole day excessive. 
We took off our coats, rolled them into bundles, and 
strung them with our traps across our shoulders, and 
so marched on to Panama, arriving there about one in 
the afternoon. 

Never in my life had I been in such a mess ! After 
a glorious wash I at once went to bed, sending the 
servant to purchase for me a clean ready-made suit 
from head to foot, for our luggage had not yet arrived. 
Nor did it arrive until two days after us. This delay 
in the arrival of one's luggage was, I learned, of frequent 
occurrence ; and the people at the hotel told me, quite 
a matter of course, that I had better buy what I re- 
quired for the present. It was more by good luck 
than anything else that I was enabled to do so, for I 
had spent in crossing all the loose cash I had set 
apart for the Isthmus transit, and my letters of credit 
were on Lima. Those who like myself were out of 
cash, and not so fortunate as to find friends at Panama, 
remained in bed until their clothes were dry. 

In those days the gold fever had reached even Pa- 
nama. Everybody tried to make money, and many 
indeed made fortunes. I remember finding at the 
hotel several American ladies, who occupied the time 
they were detained for their ship by making dresses 
for women and children coming from Colon, who were 
sure to arrive without their luggage. These dresses 
were easily sold for large sums. 

I have said that the passenger crossing the Isthmus 
by railway will hardly be able to understand the difii- 


culties of the transit in the days of mules and the 
Chagres river. In 1851, Dr. Autenrieth, a resident 
at Panama, published, in New York, a map of the 
Isthmus and a "Few Words to the Traveller," which 
then gave valuable information on the subject, and 
which even now may be interesting. I may be 
pardoned, therefore, for transcribing here a few of the 
doctor's quaint remarks. 

" To form an idea of the country between Chagres 
and Panama," says our author, ''we must first im- 
press upon the mind, that the great mountain chains 
of Mexico and Guatemala, as well as those of Peru and 
New Granada, disappear entirely even before they 
reach the Isthmus of Panama and Darien. The 
mountains of fifteen thousand and twenty thousand 
feet dwindle down, with few exceptions, to elevations 
of from five hundred to one thousand feet ; and these, 
moreover, do not form a continued chain or ridge of 
soHd mass, but are rather isolated and independent of 
each other. An examination of the map will prove, 
that notwithstanding the great number of hills, no ele- 
vation of more than one hundred and fifty feet is found 
in the immediate neighbourhood of the river Chagres ; 
but about one and a half miles to the north of 
Gorgona the " Cerro Jira," not five hundred feet high, 
is the first remarkable elevation ; and that therefore 
no obstacle of consequence presents itself in reference 
to ascent and descent to the construction of a railroad. 
After crossing the Chagres river the country presents 
a different aspect ; here suddenly the hills appear in 


close proximity, joining above their bases, and pro- 
ducing valleys of diiFerent elevations above the level 
of the sea. The Cerro Grande, one thousand feet high, 
is prominent among the neighbouring mountains. . . . 

'' Crossing the Isthmus in the dry season is certainly 
a pleasant trip, if reasonable precautions are taken, 
and provisions for a few days are carried along ; but 
any journey during the rainy season, from May until 
December, will certainly be full of hardship and 
danger so long as this complete want of conveniences 
and provisions shall exist. We hope the Eailroad 
Company will succeed in their endeavours to reach 
Gorgona before the next rainy season, and if, more- 
over, as is contemplated, a good mule road is opened 
from Gorgona to the Cruces road, the crossing will be 
a deal easier, and an express might reach Panama in 
twelve hours after leaving Navy Bay. The distance 
from Chagres to Panama, in a straight line, is not 
fully thirty-eight miles, and yet I met a great many 
who were compelled to spend seven or eight days in 
crossing, being exposed to the heaviest rains, unable 
to obtain food or a comfortable place to He down at 
night, or a spot where to dry their wet clothes. 

" All who intend to cross the Isthmus ought to 
provide themselves with some provisions, such as 
good hams, smoked tongues or sausages, pickles, good 
coffee, and their accustomed drinks ; a good blanket, 
if in the rainy season ; a light india-rubber overcoat 
and leggings ; also an umbrella. These should never 
be omitted. . . . 


" If you have Indians for boatmen, I would advise 
you not to be too friendly, but at the same time to be 
careful not to insult them or act in an overbearing 

" I was told by boatmen of mine, that boats had 
frequently been upset, and passengers' lives endan- 
gered, in consequence of their overbearing and in- 
human treatment of the Indians. Negroes and Griffs 
are in far worse repute than the full-blood Indians ; 
they are regarded as lazier, more malicious, and dis- 
honest ; therefore deal with Indians in preference. . . . 

" The Cruces road is shorter than the one at Gorgona 
by aboat two miles, but far worse to pass over. From 
Cruces to Cruz de Cardenas, the place where the two 
paths meet, is certainly the worst and most fatiguing 
road we ever travelled. There are no high mountains 
with abysses, which would present great obstacles to 
making a good road, if hands could be obtained to do 
the work. It seems that long before the Spaniards 
came to the country the rain had washed off, at certain 
places, the ground from the rock below, and parti- 
cularly at such spots where, by the formation of the 
rock, a fissure was left. These places presented a solid 
foundation for the feet of oxen and horses during the 
rainy season, and were therefore selected for crossing, 
and by connecting the different gullies with each 
other, the so-called Cruces road was established. 

" In consequence of the continued passing of mules, 
these guUies have deepened in some cases to a depth 
of about thirty feet, narrowing towards the bottom, 


which at some places is not over two feet wide. That 
through such defiles only one mule after the other can 
pass, is easily understood ; and if two parties meet, one 
is compelled to turn back. When this happens it is 
not always accomplished without difficulties. To 
avoid collisions, the " arrieros " (mule drivers) will 
give, before entering, whoops, which are immediately 
answered by the party inside. It is stated^ that F. 
Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru, ordered the paving of 
this road, which was done with large round stones, 
sometimes a foot and a half in diameter. Since 
Panama sunk into insignificance this pavement has 
been entirely neglected, and is now completely 
broken ; and the big stones are lying loose and in 
great disorder, where formerly there was a pavement. 

" This is the principal cause of the abominable state 
of the road at this time. It is astonishing that the 
mules are capable of passing at all over these loose 
heaps of round stones, with a load on their backs. 

*' At the places where no pavement was needed the 
rock is often excavated by the shoes of the mules in 
such a manner that a series of holes, sometimes more 
than a foot deep, have been produced, leaving a ridge 
of the rock between each hole; these are the most 
dangerous places for passing ; the mule has to proceed 
with great caution, or he will fall. Fortunately such 
spots do not occur very frequently. . . . 

''Cruces was, in the time of the Spaniards, during 
the great transit from Portobello, a considerable 
place, but declined with the rest of the Isthmus. In 


the year 1822, the greatest part of the place was 
consumed by fire, and lost its best buildings."* 

From the foregoing it will be seen that the distance 
to be traversed, whether from Chagres to Panama, or 
from Colon to Panama, was, after all^ trifling ; but there 
appears to have been an utter want of provision for 
the requirements of the travellers, who, as I have said 
before, arrived by hundreds. The old road of the time 
of the Spaniards seems to have been allowed to fall 
into the most complete disorder, and to render 
difficulties more difficult. The mules were often 
insufficient in number to meet the demands of the 
passengers and their luggage, and when to be obtained 
they had frequently been overworked, and were unfit 
to make the trip. Provisions, as shown, were difficult 
to procure, and, when procured, very bad in quality, 
while the other absolute necessities, such as change of 
clothing and proper sleeping-places, after a day's expo- 
sure to a broiling sun and heavy rain, it was impossible 
to procure at any price. Was it any wonder, then, that 
people unaccustomed to such hardships fell victims to 
them, and that Panama became best known in 
those days as the seat of a malignant fever, often fatal 
to the European ? 

We have no record of the number of passengers 
who crossed the Isthmus before the opening of the 
railway, but during the first four years after it was 
opened there were no less than 121,820. I beg leave 

* "A Few Words to the Traveller," by Dr. Autenreith, New York. 
Since the opening of the railway, Cruces has been literally abandoned. 



to congratulate the 121,820 who crossed by railway, 
and all those since, who have not had to pass the 
Isthmus by other means. 

In these earlier days of Isthmus travel, the now 
almost abandoned hotels of Panama were quite insuffi- 
cient to accommodate the hordes from the United 
States, who were attracted to California by the gold 
discoveries, although four or five beds were placed in 
each room, and often two persons in each bed. 
Lodgings were gladly taken in even the most miser- 
able rooms, and with the most wretched accommoda- 
tion, while passengers often encamped in the open 
streets and squares ' of the city. The old city was 
literally astounded by the influx of noisy Yankees 
who paraded the town, armed with bowie-knives and 
revolvers, which were from time to time made use of 
in the excitement caused by gambling and the liquor 
of the impromptu drinking- saloons. From these 
earlier emigrants, and from such men as accompanied 
Walker in Nicaragua, the South Americans derived 
their first knowledge of the American of the Northern 
States. The impression created was far from favour- 
able. Emigrants who had no thought about the 
Isthmus but an impatient desire to get away from it, 
appeared to the Panameiios like invaders, who were 
only waiting for an opportunity to seize the town, or 
who had already taken possession of it. '' What do 
you want, gentlemen?" asked the British Consul of 
two men with revolvers in their belts, who stalked 
into his private office and began to inspect his books 


and papers, to the astonishment of his native clerks, 
who could but make way for them. " Oh, nothing, 
stranger," was the reply ; "I guess we would like to 
see a British Consul in his den." Such men were the 
"gentlemen" of the "crowd," "Are you the man 
who wants a gardener?" was a question put to a friend 
of mine by one of these passengers who was detained 
at Panama, "because if you are, I think I knows a 
gentleman who would suit you." 

In April, 1856, 2i fracas occurred between the natives 
and passengers, arising out of a dispute about some 
fruit, which has since been known as the *' Panama 
Massacre." The knives of the natives and the revolvers 
of the Yankees were alike called into play. The con- 
tempt of the Americans for the blacks of Panama, and 
the dishke and fear of the natives of the Americans, 
but too readily kindled the spark into a flame. The 
bewildered governor ordered his ragged soldiers 
to fire upon the passengers, and several innocent 
lives were sacrificed and much property destroyed 
before this lamentable afiair ended. This was but 
the explosion of antipathies and jealousies long 
pent up. 

Among the temporary settlers on the Isthmus^ who 
were attracted by the hope of making a rapid fortune 
out of the by-passers, were many Americans, who 
had earned titles in the war in Texas ; almost every 
American was a colonel or captain. Funny stories 
are told of two brothers who set up an hotel in 
Panama; one was a major, and the other a colonel. 

M 2 


A companion of mine went to the hotel upon one 

occasion to engage beds, and asked to see Mr. , 

the proprietor : " Which one do you want, sar ? " in- 
quired the negro servant. "Well, I don't know,'' my 
companion replied ; "I merely w^ant to engage beds 
for some passengers who are expected to-morrow." 
" Oh, then, it's the major you want," replied the ser- 
vant ; "' the colonel attends to the bar — the major to 
the bedrooms." 

[ 165 ] 


Panama of the present day. — Houses at Panama. — Last of the Nuns. — 
Convents at Panama. — Chain-gang Beggars. — Population. — Men in 
Office. — New Granadian Eevolutions. — Debility of Spanish America. — 
Bolivar's Congress. 

The stranger visiting Panama, or attempting to 
relate anything about it, is naturally led to think of 
the Panama of days gone by. The first view of the 
present city, its grass -growing streets, decayed 
churches, and old comfortless houses, direct one's 
thoughts rather to the past than to the present ; in- 
deed, the place itself appears to the visitor but one 
solemn monument of departed glory ; yet I am apt 
to think that this glory is, after all, greater in our 
imagination than it was, actually, in fact. But it is 
with the present city that we now shall have to do. 
It has been related in the preceding pages how the 
original Panama was destroyed by Morgan in the 
year 1671. It was located about four miles to the 
eastward of the present town, and the site, now en- 
tirely deserted and overgrown by brushwood, is still 
clearly marked by the remains of a fine tower, and a 
few traces of other edifices. The tower in particular, 
may be clearly seen from the bay at almost all times, 
a solitary tomb in the still forest ! This spot, the 
site of old Panama, must however be one of the few 


lions for the traveller. It may be easily visited in the 
dry season ; but during the rainy months it is more 
difficult to get to it, even on horseback, on account of 
the bad state of the roads. 

The present city, then, lies in lat. 8' 56'', long. W. 
79° 31' 12", and is situated at the head of the bay of 
Panama. The town is built upon a rocky peninsula, 
stretching out into the bay ; viewed from the Pacific, 
it has almost a noble and imposing appearance. The 
cathedral towers, and the remains of the former well 
built churches and convents stand out boldly above 
the original line of the fortifications, while several 
good modern houses appear to advantage in the view, 
the bold hills and wild scenery which form the back- 
ground giving to the whole a very pretty efiect. 
'' Cerro Ancon," a noble hill standing some 540 feet 
high, to the west of the city, is conspicuous amongst 
these. The streets are for the most part of a fair 
width, regularly and well built, and with some regard 
to ventilation. The town was originally encircled by 
tolerable fortifications (the work of the Spaniards) ; 
these, however, during the last few years, have nearly 
all fallen to decay, and of late they have been removed 
to a great extent by the local authorities ; the stones 
with which they were formed having been used for 
building purposes, or broken up for road repairing. 
Both very proper applications of proper material to 
the purpose, for Panamd of the present day, with its 
fifty bare-footed, half-fed soldiers, has certainly no 
need of the remains of fortifications upon which, if in 


order_, it has not a gun to mount; while by the 
removal of these old walls the ventilation of the town 
has been greatly improved, and consequently the place 
as a residence has become more healthy. 

By these fortifications the city of Panama was 
divided into two distinct parts; the arrabal, or part 
of the town beyond the walls, being almost as ex- 
tensive and as thickly populated as the inner part; 
but the arrabal is now inhabited only by the blacks 
and coloured part of the population. 

• The Panama houses are strange-looking edifices, 
and for the most part appear to have been built 
without much pretension to architectural design or 
convenience. The upper parts of most of the old 
residences were formed chiefly of wood^ the windows 
left unglazed, and the wood work unpainted, while 
the upper story in the majority of houses is fronted 
by a heavy wooden balcony. These balconies, how- 
ever, are all in all to the Panamenos, serving at once, 
as they do, for garden, promenade, and reception- 
room, and often for many other purposes : one builds 
his bath on his balcony, another has the cooking done 
there ; and from the appearances that many houses 
present, a stranger would think that the balconies 
were the general laundries and drying-grounds of the 

But most of these old houses are in a dilapidated, 
almost ruinous-looking state, and it is no uncommon 
thing for children to fall from the cumbrous balconies 
to the street, often with narrow escapes of being 


killed. It is really wonderful to observe the apathy 
of the Panameiios on these matters, while householder 
and tenant alike, seem to have a natural dislike to 
repairs. At the beginning of the dry season a coat 
of whitewash to the dirty damp walls, and a little 
bright-green paint to the worm-eaten wood-work, is 
considered sufl&cient to meet all ends. The climate is, 
however, most destructive to household property. The 
builders, too, and carpenters, are indolent, and exorbi- 
tant in their charges, so that perhaps it is not after all 
remarkable that the evil day of '' putting on the new 
tile " is delayed as long as it can be. But there are 
yet the remains at Panama, of superior and substan- 
tial stone buildings, showing dwellings of a higher 
order. Many of these have court-yards and patios in 
the old Spanish style. As in many parts of France, 
and other continental towns, the upper stories only of 
the Panama houses are used by the higher classes as 
residences, the lower portions serving for offices, 
stores, and shops. But the poorer classes, such as 
the mechanics and artizans employed in the city, in- 
habit these lower compartments of the larger houses, 
while the labouring people exist, rather than live, in 
the outskirts of the town, in dirty huts, shared with 
pigs and chickens, and altogether in a manner and 
style decidedly inferior to that to be found in many 
Indian villages. In this respect, as in many others, 
the people of Panama seem to have profited in the 
lowest possible degree from their communication with 
the inhabitants of the more civilized world. 


In July, 1864, a few of the inhabitants were 
unhoused by a fire which occurred in the principal 
street, and which, from the absence of means to sub- 
due it, threatened to destroy the town. The following 
remarks were then made regarding the houses of 
Panama : 

" It seems strange that there should exist the greatest 
difficulty in procuring stores or residences in Panama, 
when there are so many houses going to ruin that 
might be made habitable and profitable by a small out- 
lay of capital. Although but two stores of any conse- 
quence were destroyed by the late fire, yet the occupants 
have the greatest difficulty in finding a place on the 
Main street large enough even for an office, and some 
of the unfortunate people who lived in the upper 
stories have sufiered the greatest inconvenience in pro- 
curing temporary shelter. This is not owing to a lack 
of buildings, but entirely attributable to the miserable 
condition in which the majority of property-owners 
keep their houses. They are too poor or too penurious 
to spend a cent to put them in repair ; but demand 
the highest rents for houses that are untenable, and 
expect the tenants to put them in order. Some of 
them are so exacting that they will give no lease, in 
hopes of being able, the moment a tenant has expended 
hundreds of dollars in making his residence comfort- 
able, to turn him out and get higher rent for the im- 
proved property. This fact of itself frequently deters 
tenants from spending what they would otherwise do, 
knowing it is against their interest to do so. The very 


few landlords in Panama who have put their property 
in good order find no trouble in renting it out to good 
tenants at a high rent, whilst on the other hand those 
who keep their property in bad order have to take 
the worst class of tenants^ and keep their houses empty 
half the time/'* 

The city of Panamd is lighted entirely by petroleum, 
which is now generally burned there, even in the 
houses and shops. It has quite superseded the use of 
either ordinary lamp-oil, or candles ; and as doors and 
windows are seldom shut at Panama, little or no an- 
noyance is there experienced from the disagreeable 
smell by w^hich this newly-discovered oil is attended in 

The churches and public buildings appear to have 
been fairly designed and strongly built ; but years of 
the greatest neglect, added to the deteriorating effects 
of the climate, have caused many of them to fall into 
decay. As in all Spanish America, however, the supply 
of religious edifices seems to have been greatly in ex- 
cess of the demand, and Panama forms no exception 
to the rule. Notwithstanding this, these churches, 
with one or two exceptions, are all in more or less oc- 
casional use, though no one of them is ever half filled. 
Originally there were eleven churches, four convents, 
and a nunnery , a cathedral, and a college. The col- 
lege was established by the government of Old Colum- 
bia, under the superintendence of a rector, vice-rector, 
and assistant, with a revenue of 60,000 dollars per 

* Panama " Star and Herald," July 14, 1864. 


annum. The cathedral, which is remarkable for 
nothing but its two fine towers and its hitherto inces- 
sant bells, remains to form part of, if not to ornament, 
the principal square which takes its name. Here, too, 
is also placed the " cabildo," or town-hall, in which 
the legislative and municipal assemblies hold their 
meetings. If the cathedral is remarkable for nothing, 
I am afraid this building, whether viewed from the 
inside or the outside, is remarkable for less. The 
other edifices named, having been long neglected, 
have of late been devoted to lay purposes, or remain 
''noble in their ruins," with the one exception of the 
convent of " La Concepcion," which is now, however, 
in a fair way to follow suit.* Here, until the Qtli 
September, 1862, four old ladies and one younger one 
(the last of the Panama nuns) remained, when they 
removed, or were virtually expelled by the decrees of 
the political authority of that day. One of the saddest 
sights I have ever witnessed, was the departure of 
these old ladies from their country and the home of 
their choice. Three of them were upwards of eighty 
years of age, and had spent the greater part of their 
innocent lives within the walls of the ancient convent ; 
and all were respected and loved by the whole commu- 
nity of Panama. There was certainly not a lady in 
the town, who could do so, who did not accompany 
them to the pier from which they took their departure, 
and shed a tear of sympathy at the last sad farewell. 
For of them it might truly be said that their calling 

* This convent has lately been converted into an ice manufactory. 


had been one of love. Devoting themselves with a 
sincere severity to the service of their religion, there 
was no good which they could do that was not eagerly 
done ; indeed, many of the ladies of the Isi^hmus, many 
who are now happy parents and good wives, owe their 
first lessons in religion, and indeed in general educa- 
tion, to the old ladies who, to serve a political end, 
were so ruthlessly torn away from their home. What 
this political end w^as, it is hardly the place yet to re- 
late. But to quote the remarks of the Panama news- 
paper of the day, " We could not help thinking that 
the edict which ordained such unnecessary and bar- 
barous cruelty upon those good old creatures, must 
some day revert with equal poignancy upon those who 
promulgated it." 

I have said that every lady assisted at this sad fare- 
well. There were many gentlemen besides, whose 
sympathy was as sincere ; and no one, I believe, was 
more shocked by the melancholy scene than our own 
Bishop of Honolulu, who happened then to be at 
Panama, on his way to the Sandwich Islands. 

The poor old ladies happily found a home in one of 
the many convents of Lima, w^here it is probable they 
will end their days, and^ as I said above, the Convent of 
" La Concepcion" is now in a fair way to become a ruin. 

I may be pardoned for inserting here the following 
extract from a paragraph, which was recently con- 
tributed to the local newspaper on the subject of the 
Convents of Panama : 

* Panama " Star and Herald.'' 


'* Of all the ancient buildings of Panama, there 
is none that appeal so strongly to our fefeling as 
that of the nunnery. The building with its church 
stands near the sea-gate and walls of the south side 
of the city. In its outward features it seems to 
have kept pace with the fall and decay of many 
churches and other public buildings which saw 
Panama powerful and rich. Perhaps none of the 
institutions of the Church appeal more forcibly to the 
respect and imagination of the Protestant than that of 
the Nuns and Sisters of Charity. The mysterious 
seclusion of the one and the heroic benevolence of the 
other had both much of a certain moral sublimity of 
self-abnegation in pleasant contrast with the violence 
of the inquisition. The buildings themselves yet con- 
nect us by a sort of material link with the spirit of 
the middle ages. The spirit of this period is nowhere 
more distinctly perceived than in its public edifices, 
especially in its ecclesiastical ones. Those towers 
which lift their heads to heaven— -those splendid 
cathedrals, with their thousands of pillars and pilas- 
ters, their ' long drawn aisles and fretted vaults/ their 
painted windows, their gorgeous ornaments, their 
massive buttresses, their magnificent spires, their 
countless statues and noble monuments, tell the tale 
of greatness and power. In that state of society the 
Church was the refuge of the weak against the strong, 
of the poor against the rich. 

'''■ With feelings tinged with such reflections, it was 
that we were induced to visit the Nunnery. The 


street portal was open and the voices of children at 
school came forth from the interior of the cloisters. 
The entrance looked damp and gloomy, and a sad air 
of desolation seemed to reign supreme. In the garden 
many flowering shrubs and trees were in bloom ; the 
passion-flowers and aristolochise had cast their seed; 
wild vines were climbing and creeping over every- 
thing, the most striking of which was a beautiful blue 
peaflower. Winding our way among a mass of 
entangled vegetation, we stood for a while and looked 
on the burial vaults of the dead nuns. Three, we 
were told, were there. A small head-piece of wood 
told us that 'Here was interred the Sister Maria 
Hipolita.' They, we thought, rest from their labours, 
while the Sisters who survived to watch over their 
graves, and keep green the flowers thereof, were no 
longer there, though not dead. Could they have 
foreseen that in a few years the Abbess and all the 
surviving Sisters would find it their duty to exile 
themselves — taking flight over the waters of the ocean 
they had so often and so long contemplated, only from 
their latticed windows — looking on the ships that 
came and went as things of a world with which they 
had no direct concern — they must have closed their 
eyes in grief, to have to be laid in forsaken graves. 
But let us hope that a better spirit will return to the 
States of Columbia, and that noble women will again 
be cherished for the lessons they give to human egotism 
and self-indulgence. 

" We were witnesses, too, the day the five nuns, with 


the ancient venerable abbess, left the walls .within 
which the latter lived half a century, accompanied by 
sorrowing relatives and pious women, weeping like in 
the times of St. Paul, that they should behold 
their faces no more; yet does the establishment 
within look ruinous and sad. The bell-towers of the 
church were decaying. The spider and the white ant 
had made their nests on the belfry beams, while the 
creepers and wall-flowers were adorning the walls, and 
while adorning, destroying them. Besides the chil- 
dren's voices of the school, there was only the chirp of 
a Httle wren, and the melancholy coo of the turtle- 
dove, so leaving the recesses of the ruins, the groves 
of plaintain trees, and the abandoned flowers all 
breathing of the spirit of the dead and the absent."* 

Having said thus much of the public buildings, I 
have only to add that the traveller who has a day or 
two to spend in the town, may find interesting occu- 
pation in visiting these ancient edifices in their ruins, 
the bare remains of former prosperity. Madame Ida 
Pfeifier, who certainly has not written much of 
Panama that may be quoted, is perhaps correct in 
saying that, " Among the ruins, the finest are those of 
the former college and church of St. Domingo, both of 
which would ofier splendid subjects for a painter. 
They are not so entirely destroyed, but that many fine 
portions of the buildings, majestic cupolas, moulded 
ceilings, porticoes^ &c., are still to be distinguished; 
and the most beautiful climbing plants have twined 

* Article contributed to the Panam^ " Star and Herald." 


themselves round the fragments of the walls, and blos- 
soms and flowers cover the pavement, and peep out of 
dilapidated doors and windows. The ruins of the 
church of St. Domingo are distinguished by an arch 
of peculiar construction, which attracts the attention 
of all connoisseurs, being so slightly curved that it 
scarcely rises three feet in a span of thirty." 

I have said that the streets of Panama were con- 
structed with some regard to ventilation, which in 
such a climate as this is all-important. Panama has 
not, however, the reputation of being a clean town, 
nor does it nearly deserve such a reputation, although 
a very great improvement has been made during the 
last year or two in this respect; but there is, un- 
happily, room for a great deal more to be done. The 
drainage and sewerage is very bad, and what there is, 
or was of it, is much neglected, while the habits of 
the lower classes are dirty in the extreme, hence much 
more energy and activity is necessary than has hitherto 
been displayed in carrying out the police regulations. 
These regulations in print appear to be exceedingly 
good and effective ; but alas ! for the working of them. 
Pigs and poultry are yet allowed to be kept, tied by 
the leg, at the door of the houses in the public 
thoroughfares. The frying of fish, and other cooking 
in the streets, with its disagreeable odours, still annoys, 
at least, the foreign inhabitants, while the bad smells 
which, at certain periods of the evening in particular, 
infest the air, are a disgrace to the local authorities, if 
not to the whole population. We must presume that 


many of the natives really like all this ; for there is no 
other reason why it should be so. The chain-gang, 
that is to say, the body of unfortunate men who are 
paying the penalty of their crimes, with irons and 
chains to their legs, have, however, been usefully 
employed, periodically, of late, in cleaning the most 
frequented streets, but it would be an everlasting 
broom that was equal to the emergency. Almost 
more miserable and degraded-looking than the chain- 
gangs, appear the wretched police, who guard them 
during their labours. AVhen I first visited Panama, 
this was one of the scenes which most impressed me ; 
for in those days soldiers and criminals alike begged 
alms from the passer-by. There is a slight improve- 
ment now as regards this begging; but the whole 
system of almsgiving there is a peculiar one. A real 
beggar is now seldom seen in the streets on any day 
of the week except Saturday, when they all turn out and 
surround the houses of their constituents. Alms are 
then given by the charitable to these most wretched- 
looking people, who announce their arrival at each 
house by exclaiming energetically, "Ave Maria 
purisima !" If you are in the habit of giving to each 
recipient a dime or a five-cent piece, and do not happen 
to have change, your protege will provide you with it, 
quite as a matter of course, if he or she happens to 
have it. This system has certain advantages over 
that of being asked for alms at all times and in 
all places, as at home, but I am inclined to think it 
leads idlers to take up as a trade a mode of life which, 



if not lucrative in Panama, at least furnishes the 
wherewithal to live without work. The sight of 
these wretched beggars, too, as they lounge about 
one's doorway in groups, is a severe penalty to the 

In 1863, in accordance with a law passed on the 
20th January of that year, the census of the State, 
which had not been taken since 1856, was again sup- 
posed to be taken. By this the population of the 
State was made to be over 180,000, but little birds 
whisper that this was so made, not by the usual means 
of babies coming into the world, but at the instigation 
of the President of the State, who wished to be sent to 
Bogota as an additional deputy to Congress, and who, 
in fact, was so sent. There is no reason to suppose 
that the population has much increased within the last 
eight years, considering that a revolutionary army has 
had to be furnished during a great part of this period, 
while the advantage gained by a multiplicity of births 
in and out of wedlock, is counteracted by a correspond- 
ing mortality amongst children. A writer on this 
subject says : 

" It is painful to witness the number of interments 
which are constantly occurring, in spite of the general 
salubrity of the place;" and goes on to say that 
''before the ecclesiastics had withdrawn from the 
diocese, and closed the churches to the performance of 
funeral rites, the hundred bells of the sacred edifice 
were perpetually announcing the departure of some 
infant soul ; and flowers and music made a festival of 


death. Though the chimes of the church bells are no 
longer heard, the grave still receives in its embrace 
numbers of infantile forms. 

"The poor are, many of them, too incompetent to 
perform the duties of parents, and many indiscreet 
mothers have not the means to sustain the lives of 
their infants, and much less to provide against sick- 
ness. The impunity with which men are allowed to 
abandon their offspring to the indigent care of desti- 
tute mothers, is striking. . . 

"There appears, also, to be no working system 
of registering births and deaths. Many infants, 
and indeed many adults, die under suspicious circum- 
stances, with no attempt on the part of the Govern- 
ment to recognise the fact, or inquire into the 
mystery with which the deaths are too often sur- 

All these circumstances, which are but too true, 
lead one to conclude that the population has not much 
increased of late years, and in this opinion I am con- 
firmed by personal inquiries from intelligent residents 
on the Isthmus, by whom it is estimated at about 
150,000. The population of the Province of Panama, 
while under the domination of Spain, in the year 
1808, was 57,000. To this must be added, for a 
comparison with the population of the present State, 
that of Yeraguas, which was 34,000, showing a total 
of 91,000. The population of the department of the 
Isthmus, in the year 1824, according to the census 

* Panama " Mercantile Chronicle," March, 1864. 

N 2 


then taken, was 101,555 ; but in all these calculations 
it has been impossible to estimate correctly the actual 
number of the Darien Indians. 

The population of the town is estimated at from 
10,000 to 12,000, though probably there are not 
actually more than 8,000 inhabitants. These good 
citizens celebrate annually, on the 28th November, 
the anniversary of their independence from the 
dominion of the Spaniards. Whether the Panameiios, 
with all the liberty of their constitution as a sovereign 
state, are as free as they think themselves, and whether 
they have so much, after all, to be grateful for, is a 
grave question, which we may discuss hereafter ; but 
if it were permitted to the departed spirit of the great 
Bolivar, to revisit the country he fought for and made 
free, and see the present standing of New Granada, 
he, at least, would have much to weep for. The 
following paragraph from a local newspaper, shows 
how Panama celebrated the independence in 1864, 
and will prepare the traveller for what may be met 
with, should he happen to visit the Isthmus during 
the month of November : 

" The Government has granted license for the 
celebration of the 28th, 29th, and 30th instant, by 
horseracing, masquerading, and bull-baiting, in com- 
memoration of the independence of the Isthmus of 
Panama. The Government has also appropriated 
200 dollars to add to the gaieties of the festive 
occasion, and Don Manuel Barsallo has been ap- 
pointed to superintend the preparations which 


are now being made to celebrate the welcomed 

With the exception of the foreigners who are few, 
very few, considering that so much of the commerce is 
foreign, and with the exception also of the small pro- 
portion of pure descendants of the original Spaniards, 
the population consists of mixtures in greater or less 
degrees of the Spanish, Indian, and negro races ; and as 
the old famihes of Spanish blood, " pur sang," naturally 
decrease every year, so the mixed races increase. At 
the moment I write, too, the mixed races are politically 
in the ascendant. The public offices are almost all 
filled by coloured or black men, who, as a rule, are of 
the " Liberal " party in politics, while those who would 
seem best calculated to hold such offices by their intel- 
lect and education, are resting on their oars, and occa- 
sionally paying forced loans. To a disinterested ob- 
server, it would appear to be the object of the party in 
power to render itself as obnoxious as possible to the 
party out of power. I remember in 1864 that the 
son of the previous governor had been pressed for a 
soldier by some Jack in office, and before the young 
gentleman's friends had time to interfere, he had been 
put through military facings, and his hair had been 
cut by the military barber, in an ultra military style. 
The poor youth, indeed, looked like an escaped con- 
vict when he was allowed to return to the bosom of 
his family. In this manner, is ill-will and bad feeling 
unnecessarily created, and such little debts as these 

* "Mercantile Chronicle," Nov. 21, 1864. 


are hoarded up to be paid off with interest, when the 
party out of office has its innings. This act was com- 
mitted under an article of the constitution which 
obliges each State to contribute to the public force of 
the Union, by calling into service such citizens as may 
be so called in conformity with the laws of the State ; 
and it serves to show how the laws are carried out. 
But it is now the turn of the "" Liberals ;" and, indeed, it 
almost seems that no impediment can — in this com- 
munity which boasts of its liberty and independence — 
affect persons holding office, or rather that no defect, 
physical or moral, is an impediment to the appoint- 
ment to office. This state of things, I should think, 
is almost peculiar to Panama, if not, I hardly believe 
it exists to so great an extent in the most unenlight- 
ened of the Spanish American States as it now does 
there. The present authorities, however, were raised 
to their posts on the backs of the black population, and 
great things cannot be expected from such a source. 
I would fain say a few words on New Granada's last 
revolution, but I should hardly hope to make my 
readers understand it. We may understand why the 
king of Naples lost his power, and why Otho, king of 
Greece, lost his, as we are able to form an opinion on 
European revolutions in general. Most of us also now 
think we understand the great American revolution, 
and with the help of our own writers, I dare say, we 
do understand more about that than we did at its 
commencement. Some of us, too, have endeavoured 
to master the once intricate Mexican question, though 


perhaps here our success was not very great. The 
majority of us, I think, were lost in the labyrinth of 
the church party and the monarchial party, the Con- 
servatives and the Liberals, and the English and 
Spanish intervention which did not go on, and the 
French intervention which did go on all alone. But I 
do not know whether those who are equal to Mexican 
complications have been able to fathom the mystery of 
the revolution by which New Granada was lately de- 
vouring herself; in which fathers were fighting against 
sons; brothers, and sisters too, against brothers and 
sisters,* and uncles against their nephews, even to 
death ; all, apparently for the same principles, and all, 
after all, it really appears, for absolutely nothing. But 
the recklessness with which the Spanish American States 
have, with one or two exceptions, continued to keep 
down their own prosperity by the mania for revolu- 
tion, is patent to the whole world ; so patent, indeed, 
that the whole world has almost ceased to become in- 
terested in the matter. 

Gibbon says of Spain: — "That country flourished 
as a province, and has declined as a kingdom." It 
might almost be said, I fear, of New Granada, that 
she flourished as a colony of Spain, and declined as an 
independent State. But the history of almost all 
Spanish America tells the same tale : with one or two 
exceptions only, these countries have been signally 
wanting, since their independence was attained, in that 

* The ladies of New Granada, although they do not go into the battle- 
field, take an active part in politics, and " fight for their cause," as only 
ladies can fight. 


discipline, en erg}', and uprightness, necessary for self- 
government. A friend of mine from the interior of 
New Granada, once said to me, "We can have no 
hope of becoming a respectable people until we have 
no authorities whatever. We are quiet enough in the 
interior, if they would only let us alone. It is the 
authorities, and those who would be authorities, who 
make all our revolutions, who seize the men from 
estates for soldiers, and take our money to pay them 
with, and our cattle to feed them upon. This, not to 
govern us better, or to maintain principles we or they 
care for ; but to attain to power, to the feathering of 
their own nests ; and this is all and always done under 
the mask of patriotism ! " When will the unhappy 
politicians of Spanish America realize and be guided 
by the sentiments so ably described by Mr. Canning 
in 1799: — "That there never was, nor will be, nor 
can be, a leader of a mob faction, who does not mean 
to be the lord, and not the servant of the people." 

The " Eevue des deux Mondes,'' in a recent article 
on these countries, well says that '' One only need go 
through America to make the strangest journey pos- 
sible, through all the possible varieties of anarchy." 

It is a sad state of things, when a man becomes so 
reckless that his fellow-men cease to take interest in 
him, and merely take such precautions as are necessary 
to prevent him doing them harm ; and it is a very sad 
state of things when this feeling, or absence of feeling, 
is brought about between old nations and young. 
Probably, no colonies ever obtained their independence 


under more favourable auspices than did those of Spain 
in America but a few years ago ; and yet to-day these 
prodigal sons, with Mexico at their head, are almost 
looked upon as past reclaiming; and what golden 
opportunities they have had, and yet have, for becom- 
ing respectable and respected people ! 

On a recent occasion, a South American journalist 
asked, " In what originates the contempt with which 
European powers treat South America?" and answers, 
in the debility of South America itself. " And whence, 
he asked, whence arises this debility ? " In the want 
of union and harmony, in the disunion and separation 
in which these Eepublics strive to exist, as if the 
governments of countries which have an absolute com- 
munity of history, origin, formation, tendencies, and 
necessities, were enemies. 

The same writer says, with much truth, that these 
governments are satisfied with the nominal title of 
independence, and with being allowed to enjoy a 
certain puerile vanity. Thus, for instance, Peru 
boasts of being more powerful than Ecuador, Chili 
boasts of following an independent line of conduct, 
and of separating herself from the cause of Spanish 
America. Bohvia takes pleasure in shutting herself 
up in her frontiers, and making a sort of American 
Japan; and the Eepublics of Central America, not 
content with having divided and sub-divided them- 
selves into almost homoeopathic factions, appear to aspire 
to annihilate each other, like the soldiers of Cadmus."* 

* " El Continental," July 27, 1863. 


How different is all this to the policy of the great 
soldier of South American independence. When the 
Spanish American provinces succeeded in throwing off 
the allegiance to Spain, and in establishing an inde- 
pendent government for themselves, it appeared to the 
most patriotic and forecasting of their statesmen, to be 
of the utmost importance that they should all become 
banded together by some compact or league, whereby 
they could act together for their common security and 
advancement. For five or six years the great liberator, 
General Bolivar, and others, laboured with earnestness 
and care to bring about such an alliance as would enable 
them to defend their newly gained independence against 
all the power of Spain or other enemies. After several 
treaties had been framed between individual States, 
looking to the consummation of a general compact, at 
length, in 1825, a congress or conference of the States 
was appointed to be held at Panama in the following 

The French intervention in Mexico, and, subse- 
quently, the Spanish quarrel with Peru, led the South 
American States in 1864 to project a revival of the 
congress, to be held this time at Lima, the capital of 
Peru, and this new congress actually met in the latter 
end of that year. 

We have yet to see, however, whether this new 
congress of the South American States tends to bring 
about a warmer alliance between them, and whether it 
be more successful than that congress which was inau- 
gurated by Bolivar in 1826. The congress of Bolivar 


only held its first session at Panama; but owing to 
the sickliness of the place, it was adjourned to Tacubaya 
in Mexico, and never led to any practical result. 
Bolivar, as President of the Eepublic of Colombia, in 
1823 invited Mexico, Peru, Chili^ and Buenos Ayres, 
to send delegates to Panama or some other suitable 
place, " to treat on matters of general interest to the 
republics." Mexico and Peru accepted the proposition, 
but Chili and Buenos Ayres showed reserve. In 
December 1824, Bolivar sent another circular note, 
and, in June 1826, delegates from Colombia, Mexico, 
Peru, and Central America, assembled at Panama. 
The republics of Buenos Ayres and Chili continued to 
hold back, apprehending, as it was unjustly said, that 
the aim of Bolivar was to incorporate the republics 
into a grand empire, of which he was to be the ruler. 
To this congress the United States was invited. Pre- 
sident Adams replied, " that the powers and objects of 
such a meeting ought first to be definitely settled, and 
when that was done, if there appeared any objects in 
which the United States had an interest, he would 
readily accede." In answer to President Adams's 
letter, the objects of the congress were defined to be, 
" To form a permanent council as a bond of union 
against common danger from abroad; to preserve in- 
ternal peace among the several States ; to interpret 
treaties between the States, and to regulate foreign 
commerce." To the second invitation the President 
acceded, "restricting the delegation to act only in a 
diplomatic character ; not to become members of the 


congress, nor to take any part in their internal con- 
cerns, other than to give advice and information when 
requested." The congress met, and after forming one 
treaty, and three others conditional upon it, adjourned, 
to convene in the following February at Tacubaya, a 
village a league distant from Mexico, or in any other 
place in the Mexican territory. Of the three United 
States delegates appointed by Mr. Adams, one died, 
and the other two reached Panama after the adjourn- 
ment. The meeting at Tacubaya never took place, 
but at Panama the treaty of union and perpetual con- 
federation which was drawn up was ratified by Bolivar 
for Colombia. The ratification of the other States was 
t(3 take place in Mexico. 

Mr Adams thus spoke of this congress in his first 
message to the United States Congress in December 

*' Among the measures which have been suggested 
to them (the Spanish- American Eepublics) by the new 
relations with one another, resulting from the recent 
changes in their condition, is that of assembling, at 
the Isthmus of Panama, a congress at which each of 
them should be represented, to deliberate upon objects 
important to the welfare of all. The Eepublics of 
Colombia, of Mexico, and of Central America, have 
already deputed plenipotentiaries to such a meeting, 
and they have invited the United States to be also 
represented there by their ministers. The invitation 
has been accepted, and ministers on the part of the 
United States will be commissioned to attend at these 


deliberations, and to take part in them, so far as may 
be compatible with that neutrality from which it is 
neither our intention, nor the desire of the other 
American States, that we should depart." 

An EngHsh commissioner was also sent out to this 
congress, and in the little British burial-ground at 
Panama may be seen the tombs of his secretaries, who, 
shortly after their arrival, fell victims to the climate. 
They were the first English Protestants who were in- 
terred according to the rites of the Protestant religion 
in the then Roman Catholic province of the Isthmus. 
A piece of ground was generously set apart by the 
government of the province for their interment, and 
in this grant originated the present British Protestant 
burial-ground at Panama. The sessions of the con- 
gress lasted from the 22nd June to the 1 5th July.* 

The British commissioner, Mr. Dawkins, returned 
to England from Panama. Restrepo, the historian of 
Colombia, says his conduct was noble and frank ; that 
he limited himself to advising the plenipotentiaries of 
the new republics to show respect and consideration 
for the institutions of other countries ; to disprove 
the suspicions which might exist in Europe that re- 
publican America pretended to establish a political 
system opposed to that of Europe. He urged with 
much force, that the assembly should give proofs of its 
love of peace, and of its desire to make some pecuniary 
sacrifice in order to obtain it. He assured the 
assembly that Great Britain would charge herself 

* Eestrepo's " Historia de Colombia." 


with the mediation with Spain, and that a happy- 
result might be expected from her good offices, if the 
basis of the negotiation was the concession of a pecu- 
niary indemnification. Without this France would 
not co-operate. 

The assembly, however, separated without taking 
any step towards obtaining peace with Spain.* 

* Restrepo's " Historia de Colombia." 

[ 191 ] 


Contemplated Transfer of the Capital. — Elections. — Police. — Revolution 
of 1861-62. — American Intervention. — Neutrality of the Isthmus. — 

In the year 1831 a revolution was made in the 
State of Panama with the view to a separation from 
the repubHc. Again, in the year 1840, the Isthmus 
of Panama temporarily declared itself independent, 
remaining separated from the republic for two months ; 
and at occasional intervals since that period, and as 
lately as the year 1862, the politicians of the state 
have been blowing hot and cold on this same subject 
of independence. Perhaps it may come to this after 
all, although I very much question whether the 
Federal Government, be it of which party it may — 
^^ Conservative" or ^^ Liberal" — would ever stand this 
secession. Panama is much too important a position 
for the general government to give up. But, certainly, 
if by any political machinery it could be manipulated 
into a respectable and properly governed little State, 
the outside world would be the gainer. It does not 
so much matter to Europeans and Americans, save 
and except the unhappy bond-holders, if the politicians 
of the interior of New Granada find amusement. 


from time to time, in raising mock armies, with a 
generalissimo to command every twenty-five men. 
Although we are all very sorry to see this, desiring, 
as we do, to see our young friends prosper and at 
peace ; but it does, I take it, affect seriously European 
and American interests when the farces called civil 
wars are performed on such ground as the Isthmus of 
Panama, to the impediment of the legitimate business 
of the whole commercial world. 

On the subject of the recently proposed removal of 
the national capital from Bogota to Panama, " The 
Money Market Eeview" for May, 1863, contained the 
following paragraph : — 

" The important news has arrived of the approach- 
ing change of the seat of government from Bogota to 
Panama — a measure likely to exercise a very important 
and satisfactory influence on the future destinies of 
New Granada. Panama is already the centre depot of 
a vast trade between the ports on the South Pacific 
and Europe, although still in its infancy, capable of 
an extension whenever a canal is made, as really 
defies description. That that great work will be 
executed sooner or later we confidently believe ; and it 
will certainly be more satisfactory to have the Govern- 
ment of New Granada within twenty days' communi- 
cation from England and France, instead of six weeks, 
as at present. It is not too much to say that a nation 
possessing such geographical positions as Panama — 
situated as it is on an isthmus of high importance to 
the world — cannot fail to rise and prosper." 


I agree with the writer of the article, that the poli- 
tical position of Panama would be much improved by 
its being made the capital of the republic, but I 
doubt very much whether the Bogota people would 
ever stand it. Had General Mosquera carried out his 
plan of an union of Ecuador and Yenezuela with the 
new Colombia, Panama would, doubtless, have been 
the proper situation for the capital, from the greater 
facility for communication. But his scheme is not 
likely to be carried into effect ; it is even said that the 
Emperor of the French, who appears to have taken 
Ecuador specially under his protection, would not con- 
sent to this republic joining in such an union. It is 
not at all likely, therefore, that Panama will become 
the seat of the Colombian Government, as was at one 
time thought probable ; nor is it, I think, more pro- 
bable that the often talked of canal will now be ever 
made. As matters now, however, stand, the State of 
Panama, according to the constitution, is sovereign, 
and does not depend upon the general government, 
except in certain matters which have been delegated 
to it. This is the theory, but in practice it appears to 
me that the States in general, and Panama in particu- 
lar, are very much under the control and authority of 
the general government. 

In saying that the authorities of the States are to a 
certain degree under the control of the authorities of 
the Union, I must also say that it is perhaps well for 
the credit of the country, and well for the foreigners 
residing in the country, that it is so, and this in 



Panama particularly, where the State authorities 
become occasionally mighty men. 

On a recent occasion, when the Spanish commis- 
sioner was insulted at the residence of the French 
consul at Panama, the President of the Union soundly 
rated the President of the State for his proceeding in 
the matter. It is well that there should be some 
check, however rarely available, on the arrogance and 
airs of these petty authorities, who sometimes almost 
fancy themselves, not only the representatives and 
great powers of a great nation, but almost great 
princes. One President a short time ago complained 
of the want of courtesy of the French and English 
consuls^ in presuming to visit him on official busi- 
ness without previously demanding an audience ; and 
with characteristic and amusing insolence he asked, 
"Whether Napoleon III., or even his minister, would 
receive the representative of Colombia without such 
formality ! " 

The Constitution of the Eepublic (as well as that of 
the State of Panama), professes to guarantee to all who 
come to the country the free expression of opinion in 
print, freedom of conscience in religion, liberty of 
industry, inviolability of life and property, individual 
security, inviolability of domicile, and of epistolary 
correspondence, legal equality, personal liberty, liberty 
of association, and the right of petition ; and foreigners 
accused of criminal offences are tried by juries, of 
which three of the members are foreigners. 

This is certainly a Constitution liberal enough to 


meet all the requirements of society, even in this 
advanced age ; but, as will be seen on perusing the Con- 
stitution at length, the executive authorities have 
great powers of suspension in times of political 
troubles ; and as New Granada is one of those coun- 
tries most subject to the fever of revolutions, these 
powers of the executive are often put in force, when 
the constitution becomes almost a dead letter. 

Each State sends plenipotentiaries to the Senate 
and Chamber in accordance with its population, at the 
rate of one for every 50,000 inhabitants, and one more 
for a residue of not less than 20,000 ; and so the 
president of the union is elected, or supposed to be 
elected, by the votes of the several states, each one 
having a vote. Panama, in common with the other 
States, has a local house of assembly, a governor, now 
called citizen-president, two secretaries of state, a 
prefect, alcalde, and a host of minor officials. There 
are also a captain of the port and a postmaster-general 
who are agents of the general government, but under 
the State authority. For the administration of law 
and justice there are inferior and superior courts and a 
commercial tribunal. 

The President of the State is presumed to be elected 
by ballot, and by votes taken throughout the whole 
State, as are also the members of the Legislative 
Assembly. Every male person of full age, priests and 
foreigners only excepted, is supposed to have a* vote, 
and to exercise it at these elections; even persons 
under age, who have been married or have obtained 



a licence to manage their own affairs, are entitled to 
vote. When it is remembered, however, that a very- 
small proportion of the free and independent electors 
are capable either of reading or writing, and that the 
majority of them have absolutely nothing at stake in 
the country, it may easily be understood that great 
abuses take place at these elections. The unfortunate 
voters, if they vote at all, and do not vote two or 
three times over, are at best but the tools of a party, 
and are morally driven hke sheep to the poll. This 
was the state of things under the old constitution, 
and it certainly does not appear to be much improved 
under the new, for we find the following notice of the 
most recent elections : 

"On Sunday, the 5th June, 1864, the elections 
for the president took place in the State. In this 
city, thanks to the co-operation exercised by Seiior 
Buenaventura Correoso (who, we know not with what 
legal authority, was exercising the executive power), 
by the prefect, by the troops, and by the police, Senor 
Santacoloma obtained nearly 300 votes. Some of the 
soldiers voted four or five times."* 

Nor does the abuse end here. Many districts 
return votes for actually twice or three times the 
number of electors contained therein. So much for 
universal sufirage in such a country as New Granada, 
or rather Colombia. 

The President, when duly elected, should serve for 
two years, and is not eligible for re-election until 

* Panama " Star and Herald," June 7, 1864. 

POLICE. 197 

after the expiration of one constitutional period. He 
immediately appoints his secretaries of state, prefect, 
and subordinate officers, and proceeds to rapidly work 
in the issuing of decrees, in which the Panama 
authorities appear to love best to show their abilities. 
The carrying out efficiently and properly of the 
decrees when given forth seems to be quite another 
affair, and very often to concern no one. The best of 
the authorities in this respect "yield to circum- 
stances." England, France, the United States, and 
most of the South American repubhcs have consuls 
residing at Panama, and there are ministers from 
these countries accredited to the capital; but as it 
takes nearly as long to communicate with Bogota, 
under the most favourable circumstances, at certain 
times, as it does to communicate with Europe, political 
matters of immediate interest often fall to the work 
of the consuls. The first British consul was sent to 
Panama in February, 1824, a commissioner having 
been previously sent to the capital, Bogota. Senor 
Hurtado, the first minister from Colombia, was re- 
ceived by the King, George IV., November 21, 1825. 
Half a regiment of artillery and two companies of 
infantry appeared, by the old provision of the supreme 
government, to be destined for the garrison of Panama, 
but this for some time past has declined to about fifty 
barefooted, badly- clothed^ and worse fed recruits, 
whose presence, for all the good they do, or could do, 
might very judiciously be dispensed with. A proper 
and efficient police force of honest men, well found 


and fed, who would do police work, and keep the 
dirty water from the balconies off one's head, would 
not be more expensive or more difficult to maintain, 
and it would be all that is necessary for Panama. 
But this unhappily there is not. The police is a sort 
of "gendarmerie," badly ofiicered, armed, and paid, 
and singularly wanting in a knowledge of the first 
elements of their duty. Indeed, so little real sense 
of government protection is experienced for property 
on the Isthmus, that on more than one occasion the 
foreigners have organised and kept up guards at their 
own expense, while for some years past a city night- 
watch has been established and maintained by private 
subscription amongst the houses of business. All the 
steam-packet companies, and the railroad company, also 
subscribe largely towards the maintenance of the 
police, &c., of Panama. All that is required, therefore, 
is a proper application of the money. 

''Bobberies are rare enough, and, when they do 
occur, are seldom brought home to the natives. 
However, the police are scarcely ever able to trace out 
robberies ; and I only wonder, so encouraged, they are 
not commoner."* 

The Panamenos pilfer rather than steal. They will 
take a fat turkey or chicken from your yard, or an 
article of linen from the washerwoman, but they 
rarely attempt a great robbery. If house or store is 
broken into at Panama, the act is committed in 
almost every case by foreigners. This is in the time 

* " Panama as a Home," in " All the Year Round/' May 9, 1863. 

REVOLUTION OF 1861-62. 199 

of peace, when all things go smoothly. But in the 
times of poHtical troubles the presence of a foreign 
ship of war in port is hailed alike by foreigners and 
natives as " a blessing and protection to those who do 
well, and a caution to evil doers." The English have 
almost always a man-of-war here ; the French have 
one occasionally, and the Americans generally. At 
the time I wrote this there were nine men-of-war 
there, as the French had mustered in great force, 
and were taking in stores and provisions previously to 
the departure for the Mexican coast. There was 
an American admiral, too, the first American admiral 
that had been at Panama since the Americans have 
adopted this sensible title for their chief naval officers. 
Before, they were called flag-officers, a hard sounding, 
and, to other nations, an almost incomprehensible 
title ; certainly not so seamanlike a term as its prede- 
cessor, '* commodore." My ear has become accustomed 
to a great many Americanisms, but it could never 
get quite accustomed to " Good morning, flag-officer. 
How's your health, sir ?" " This railroad is a great 
institution, sir," said an American naval officer to one 
of ours, to whom he was showing the lions of Panama, 
— " this railroad is a great institution, sir, but Panama 
is the meanest place for drinks you will find on the 
station." Now my ear has become quite accustomed 
to this mode of expression. I may freely, too, in 
parenthesis, add here my testimony in favour of the 
railroad as an institution, and against the drinks^ i.e,, 
the liquors sold on the Isthmus. 


But to keep to Panama. The last political change 
took place in this wise. The legitimate governor, 
who had been duly elected in the manner before 
described, and who had held his office almost 
peaceably for nearly his two years, found him- 
self one fine day visited by about 150 soldiers 
from Carthagena, the capital of a friendly state in the 
hands of the Liberal party ; for it must be remembered 
that New Grranada's last revolution, which in its little 
way was as devastating as that of Mexico, was a struggle 
between two factions calling themselves " Liberals" and 
"Conservatives." The governor then had been the 
" Conservative" candidate, when the " Conservatives" 
were in power throughout the country. The Liberals 
had, however, been latterly gaining ground, and had 
gained some of the states, and the soldiers were appar- 
ently sent by the " Liberal" party to assist the governor 
in carrying out certain decrees of that faction which 
he had resisted, and which, as the supreme authority 
in his own State he had unquestionably the right to 
resist. On the arrival of the soldiers at Colon, the 
governor protested both against the obnoxious decrees, 
and against the coming of the soldiers, as contrary to a 
treaty which he had made with an agent of the 
" Liberal" party, and by which treaty he had hoped to 
keep Panama out of the revolution ; but it was all in 
vain. The soldiers declared they would come whether 
or no ; and as the governor had no force to resist them, 
he here judged prudence to be the better part of 
valour, and so gave his sanction for their crossing 

REVOLUTION OF 1861-62. 201 

from Colon by railway ; and on they came, pretending 
then, as they had at first pretended, to be entirely 
under the governor s authority ! Matters went on thus 
quietly for a few weeks. The poor governor, how- 
ever, soon found that he had become simply a tool in 
the hands of Captain Sword, so, in accordance with a 
law which had been previously made for an emergency, 
he removed the capital, himself, and his secretary to 
Santiago de Yeraguas, a town some three days distant 
in the interior of the state, leaving his unwelcome 
troops behind him to do battle with the prefect. 
Then about eighty individuals, all of whom with but 
one exception were of the black population, assembled 
in the town-hall, deposed the absent governor, and 
elected in his stead one of their own party, under the 
title of provisional governor. The two for a short 
time then reigned together, and shied decrees at each 
other — the one at Santiago, the other in Panama. 
But the provisional governor, having the soldiers to 
back him, soon found himself strong enough to arm 
and send a force into the interior to annihilate the 
legitimists , and here their chief, the first poor 
governor, paid the penalty of ofiice and was cruelly 
shot in a mock field of battle, in which battle it 
appeared that he and one or two other persons were 
the only victims. The whole afiair would have been 
a farce but for this tragical ending. But he whose 
life was so unnecessarily sacrificed was an intelHgent, 
well-meaning, though perhaps weak young man, who 
had unfortunately had politics forced upon him. He 


was of one of the best and most respected families on 
the Isthmus, and he left a young widow and three 
small children to deplore his loss. He had during 
his reign steadily endeavoured to develop the re- 
sources, agricultural and commercial, of his country. 
With his death died his political party in the State ; 
the blacks reigned supreme ; the obnoxious decrees 
were put in force ; the poor old nuns were turned 
out of their convent, and afterwards their bishop left, 
or was banished. Forced loans were exacted from 
the '^ Conservatives," and poor Panama, in consequence 
of it all, goes down the political ladder some steps 
lower. This short relation of the facts, undisguised 
by the grandiloquent language of the despatches of 
the time, may give some idea of how ^^ conservative" 
Panama became "liberal" in the year 1862. Her 
Majesty's consul at Panama, in his report dated 
July 31st, 1862, which was presented to parliament, 
mildly says, *'No improvement can be noted in the 
social, industrial, commercial, or political condition of 
the Isthmus. It has now become involved in the civil 
war going on in the interior of the republic, which 
will no doubt retard its development and prosperity."* 
The evil effects which the repeated revolutions have 
upon these small States may be easily imagined. Men 
who are continually called upon to serve as soldiers 
are hardly likely to become industrious or useful 
citizens. The new constitution provides that each State 

* " Commercial Reports received at the Foreign Office from Her Majesty's 


EEVOLUTION OF 1861-62. 203 

shall furnish one per cent, of its population towards 
the national army in time of war ; and time of war is 
but too often a time of civil war and of revolution. 

New Granada at the present time can hardly be said 
to possess a navy, in the smallest possible conception 
of the term. In the time of war or revolution a few 
small vessels have been armed and manned by each of 
the contending factions ; but these vessels, if not lost 
in the hands of the extemporised commanders and 
sailors, have immediately fallen into disuse on the 
restoration of peace. The coasting trade, which is 
insignificant, is open to all nations ; and the New 
Granadian flag is hardly ever seen, even in the Bay of 

The Government of the United States of America 
appear to have been inclined to take an unusually 
active part in the revolution which I have described. 
It is probable, however, that cold water was thrown 
by England and France on Mr. Seward's views. His 
appeal to those countries for co-operation is, however, 
hardly in accordance with the Munroe doctrine. 

In the volume of diplomatic correspondence pre- 
sented to Congress, a letter from Mr. Seward to Mr. 
Adams appears, from which the following is extracted. 
It is dated July 11, 1862 : 

"On the 26th of June last, Mr. P. A. Herran, 
Minister Plenipotentiary of the Granadian Confedera- 
tion, near the Government of the United States, trans- 
mitted to this department a note, of which a transla- 
tion is here annexed, marked H. 


" In this note, Mr. Herran gave information that 
Mosquera, a revolutionary chief, who is engaged in 
subverting the Granadian Confederation, had sent an 
armed force to occupy the Isthmus of Panama, which 
proceeding was opposed by an unavaiHng protest of 
the Governor of Panama, and Mr. Herran therefore 
invoked the interposition of this Government, in 
accordance with the treaty obligation above set 

" Simultaneously with the reception of this note of 
Mr. Herran's, substantially the same information which 
it gave was received from our consul residing at 
Panama ; and the President therefore instructed our 
naval commander of that port to take care to protect 
and guarantee, at all hazards and at whatever cost, the 
safety of the railroad transit across the Isthmus of 
Panama. Mr. Herran now insists that, owing to the 
character of the population on the Isthmus and the 
revolutionary condition of that region, the security of 
the transit cannot be adequately insured by the pre- 
sence and activity of a mere naval force, and the 
Granadian Confederation is entitled, therefore, to the 
special aid of a land force to be sent from the United 
States, and suggests that it should be made to consist 
of three hundred cavalry. 

"This Government has no interest in the matter 
different from that of other maritime powers. It is 
willing to interpose its aid in execution of its treaty 
and for the benefit of all nations. But if it should do 
so, it would incur some hazard of becoming involved 


in the revolutionary strife which is going on in that 
country. It would also incur danger of misrepresen- 
tation of its objects by other maritime powers, if it 
should act without previous consultation with them. 
The revolutionary disturbances existing in that quar- 
ter are doubtlessly as well known and understood by 
the Governments of Great Britain and France as they 
are by this Government, and they are probably also 
well informed of the proceeding of Mosquera, which 
has moved Mr. Herran's application to the President. 
He desires an understanding with those two Govern- 
ments upon the subject, and you are therefore in- 
structed to submit the matter to Earl Eassell^ as Mr. 
Dayton will likewise be instructed to confer with M. 
Thouvenel." * 

Again, too, according to the "New Tork Herald," 
the Government of the United States felt called upon 
to interfere and aid the Colombian Government in 
carrying out the wishes of Peru, by preventing Spain 
from transporting troops across the Isthmus of Panama. 
This was, indeed, giving a free interpretation to the 
treaty of June 1848 between the United States and 
New Granada, by which the neutrality of the Isthmus 
was guaranteed, together with the absolute sovereignty 
of New Granada over the territory named. 

When the French intervention in Mexico first com- 
menced, the legislative assembly of Panama petitioned 
the general Government of Colombia not to allow 
French troops to pass over the Isthmus ; but the idea 

* Quoted in Panama " Star and Herald." 


of calling upon the Americans to assist in carrying out 
this policy was not then contemplated. 

A curious sequel to all this occurred in the autumn of 
1864. A number of French marines and sailors arrived 
at Colon to replace invalids from the French vessels of 
war which had been stationed on the Mexican coast, 
and otherwise employed in the Pacific. The President 
of the State of Panama, full of the neutrality of the 
Isthmus, and indignant at the Emperor's proceedings in 
Mexico, ordered the authorities at Colon not to allow 
the French sailors to pass over to Panama, and he re- 
quested at the same time the railway company's agents 
not to give them passage. The French officers, natu- 
rally enough, urged that Enghsh and American troops 
had on several occasions crossed the Isthmus by hun- 
dreds ; and this argument was curiously illustrated by 
a number of American soldiers arriving at the very 
time of the discussion, and at once crossing over to 
their ship in the Pacific, in accordance with a permis- 
sion, which, it was said, had been previously granted 
by a former president of the State. Upon this, the 
French acted upon the " most favoured nation" clause 
of the treaty, and passed over too. We did not see 
the Ainericans called upon to impede their progress ! 

Again, only a month later, this question of neu- 
trality was revived. A number of Americans of Con- 
federate tendencies, were discovered in a plot to seize 
one of the railroad company's steamers and convert her 
into a Confederate cruiser. These men (seven in 
number) were made prisoners on board the vessel they 


intended to seize, and were carried on board the flag- 
ship of the American Admiral, then at Panama. This 
was on the 10th of November. 

"On the 12th, Eear- Admiral Greorge P. Pearson, 
commander of the United States Pacific Squadron ; 
Captain Davenport and Paymaster Eittenhouse, of the 
United States frigate 'Lancaster;' William Nelson, 
Esq., commercial agent of the Panama Eailroad Com- 
pany ; Colonel Alex. M'Kee, United States Consul at 
Panama ; and F. W. Eice, Esq., Consul at Aspinwall, 
called on the President of this State to ask permission 
to pass the seven prisoners, now on board the ' Lan- 
caster' in this bay, across the Isthmus, in order to send 
them to New York by the next steamer from Aspin- 
waU. The permission asked for has been refused by 
the President, on the ground that he is not empowered 
to grant it." * 

The following is the correspondence which passed 
between Eear- Admiral Pearson and the President in 
regard to this matter : — 



" United States flag-ship Lancaster^ 
" Panama Bay, Nov. 11, 1864. 

" His Excellency Jose Leonardo Calancha, President 
" of the State of Panama. 
" Sir, — Having received officially, and from sources 
of undoubted authority, information that a band of 

* " Evening Standard," Dec. 14, 1864. Quotation from Panama " Star 
and Herald." 


pirates were congregating in this city, with the known 
intention of taking passage in the American steamer 
' Salvador/ and after leaving the Bay of Panama in 
that steamer, to capture her and convert her into a 
piratical cruiser, I determined, if possible, to put a 
stop to this foul attempt upon the commerce of the 

" The commander of the ' Salvador' requested my 
assistance in order to protect him and his passengers 
from harm while in the act of examining the baggage 
of his passengers, that being the only sure way of 
identifying the desperadoes from the peaceful and 
worthy passengers on board his steamer. To this I 
most readily assented, and for the greater security of 
the ' Salvador' I proceeded in this ship beyond the 
legal jurisdiction of the Government of New Granada, 
and then took from her seven persons who, with arms, 
powder, and other mimitions of war in their possession, 
and bearing written proof of their intentions, were on 
board of her under real or false names, and with the 
intention of becoming pirates of the sea ! 

" I would most respectfully represent to your Excel- 
lency that this nefarious transaction has occurred in 
the venerable city of Panama, and but for the timely 
information I received, this band of desperate men, 
leagued with others, would now in all probability have 
been in possession of the steamer ' Salvador,' with the 
design of capturing one or more of the fine mail 
steamers of the Pacific Steamship Company. These 
pirates have been arrested by me upon the high seas, 


in the name of the Grovernment of the United States, 
and I have to request of your Excellency permission to 
send them across the Isthmus, on their way to New 
York, in season for the next steamer for that place. 

" I have the honour to assure your Excellency of 
the respect and high consideration of 

" Your obedient servant, 

'' G. F. Pearson. 

" Acting Rear- Admiral, commanding 
" Pacific Squadron." 

The following is a literal translation of the reply of 
President Calancha to Admiral Pearson : — 

" U. S. OF Colombia, Sovereign State of Panama, 
" Pkesidency of the State — No. 209. 

*' Panama, 13th November, 1864. 

"To the Hon. G. F. Pearson, Acting Admiral and 
Commander of the Squadron of the U.S. of North 
America, stationed in the Pacific. 

'' From your hand I received yesterday the note, 
dated the 11th inst., on board the frigate ^Lan- 
caster,' which you were pleased to write to me, with 
two objects, in my opinion, of different significa- 

" The first one is to make known to the Government 
of the State that you have prevented the accomplish- 
ment of an occurrence which, undoubtedly, would have 
had immense results for the commerce of the world, as 
is well indicated in the note^ which with pleasure I am 
about to answer. 


" The Presidency congratulates the Admiral on the 
dexterous manner in which he has known how to avoid 
this occurrence, vast in disastrous consequences, and at 
the same time renders him the most formal thanks for 
the respect which he has been good enough to pay to 
our sovereignty, by putting himself far from Colombian 
waters to execute the capture of the suspected indivi- 

"The second one confines itself to soliciting the 
permission of the Executive of the State to pass across 
the Isthmus the seven prisoners which are now on the 

'' With regard to this point, I have to undergo the 
pain of giving to the Hon. Admiral a negative answer. 

"The National Constitution, in the 1st paragraph 
of the 17th article, reserves the foreign relations to the 
general Government; and article 89 prohibits all func- 
tionaries or public corporations to exercise any function 
or authority which has not been duly conferred on them. 

" In view of the expressed dispositions of the funda- 
mental charter of Colombia, it is not allowed to me to 
grant the permission which the Honourable Admiral 

" I hope that the Honourable Mr. Pearson, weigh- 
ing the force of the reasoning which I expose, will do 
full justice to a refusal emanating from the want of 
power for granting the permission. 

" The Honourable Admiral by the fact of asking for 
the leave, recognises its necessity, based on the sove- 
reignty of Colombia in the territory, and on the prin- 


ciples of international law ; and I feel confident that 
the Honourable Commander, respecting the sovereignty 
of the South American republics, continental sisters of 
the daughter of the great Washington, will renounce 
the idea of sending across the Isthmus the seven 
prisoners taken on the ' Salvador.' 

" With sentiments of high consideration, I subscribe 
myself, the Admiral's 

" Faithfiil and obedient servant, 

" Jose Leonardo Calancha."* 

When the Government at Bogota heard of all these 
proceedings, they sent the following 



^'^A note has been received at this office from the 
French Minister, calling the attention of the Execu- 
tive to your order of the 23d of October last, prohibit- 
ing the transit across the Isthmus of the French 
marines, who came to replace the invalids and dis- 
charged men belonging to the frigate ^Pallas/ at the 
same time offering no obstacle to United States troops 
on their way to California. 

^^The Minister complains of such preference, and 
asks that the necessary orders shaU be given to avoid 
thi^ in future. The Executive accordingly deems it 
necessary to express to you that the prohibition of 
allowing foreign troops to cross the Isthmus shall be 

* Panama " Star and Herald." 

p 2 


absolute ; consequently no distinction ought to be made 
in the treatment of all nations friendly to the U.S. of 
Colombia. It is true that the U.S. of America occupy 
a special position, on account of the situation of their 
territories on the Pacific^ and the Executive thinks 
that this will be a reason for Congress to consider as 
innocent the passing of their troops to California^ and 
to permit the same through our territory, until the 
matter is settled by a special convention which has 
been proposed to that effect ; but, in the meantime, 
the rule ought to be general. 

"And in order that you may proceed with more 
certainty in any event, it seems to me desirable for 
you to know that the Executive is of opinion that all 
must be considered as troops who are organized accord- 
ing and subject to military laws, even if they are not 
positively armed." 

It is hardly likely that the United States, having 
once obtained permission to transport her naval and 
military forces over the territory, will even for a time 
submit to such instructions as these, the latter part of 
which are as impolitic as they are unnecessary. The 
Isthmus should be an open highway, open to all 
nations; and even if there were an objection to the 
transporting of armed bodies of men over the territory, 
it is not easy to see a reasonable objection to the per- 
mitting the exchange of ships' crews over the railroad. 
But to make an exception in favour of one nation 
would be simply absurd, even if it could be made, and 
there was no " most favoured nation" clause in treaties. 


The entry of the " Liberals " into office at Panama 
was, as I have said, also the entry of the blacks to power. 
I had, since this change in the government, to defend 
a lawsuit in the courts of Panama for one absent, and 
I found for my judges, one a journeyman tailor, and 
one the brother of my friend's man-servant, both men 
of colour ! " Igualdad ante la ley." I gained my 
suit, as much I think because my judges could not 
understand the merits of it, as from any other cause^ 
although it might simply enough have been gained on 
its merits. But though I say that the verdict in this 
case happened to be a correct one, I do not the less 
smile when such men as were these judges talk about 
their "color politico." What can the country hope 
for when tailors and porters are appointed to fill 
offices which should require at least intelligence, 
integrity, and education ? But the fates deliver ye 
from a law-suit at Panama, at the best of times ! The 
process is endless, and the lawyers' fees are enormous. 
The study of law here seems to be, indeed, the most 
attractive pursuit for those young men of the place who 
make up their minds to study at all. Hence, lawyers 
abound ; but I do not think their studies go very deep. 
The great art here seems to be to delay a legal process 
as far as possible, and, as a great deal of a suit is car- 
ried on in writing, an ordinary case in the hands of 
two lawyers up to their work will soon become a thick 
volume, if nothing else comes of it. Under the old 
constitution, foreigners had the right of appeal to 
Bogota from the decision of the State tribunals ; but 


this privilege has been withdrawn under the new 
constitution of 1863. 

Prescott tells us that the Spaniards found that the 
law of the Incas " was simple, its application easy, 
and where the judge was honest the case was as likely 
to be determined correctly on the first hearing as on 
the second," and that the Spaniards, familiar with the 
evils growing out of long protracted suits, where the 
successful litigant is too often a ruined man, were loud 
in their encomiums of this swift-handed and economi- 
cal justice." * It is much to be regretted that the 
descendants of these Spaniards, which the present 
rulers of this continent boast to be, have not profited 
by this important lesson. 

But there is more trickeiy, intrigue, and delay in 
matters of law at Panama than could be imagined by 
one who had not visited Spanish America. I may 
cite two instances which came under my personal ob- 
servation, amidst a dozen others which I heard of. 
The first was the case of a man, an Englishman too, 
who had absconded, leaving a little property, and more 
debts than were covered by it. His creditors v/ere 
foreigners, so the authorities for once had no local 
interest in putting the clog on the naturally slow 
coach of the law. Now let us see what occurred. The 
property was embargoed. The claimants legally 
proved their debts, and, at the end of eighteen months' 
pleading, the law gave the formal order for the divi- 
sion of the property among the creditors. When 

* Prescott's "Peru." 


behold, just as this was about to be done, a new judge 
came into office, who decreed that his predecessor had 
not observed all the due formalities of the case, and 
that the suit must be commenced " de novoy There 
was no appeal. The last I heard of the case was, that 
it was about two years old, and in '' statu quo," 

The other case which also came under my cog- 
nizance was one merely of robbery, for which four 
men were arrested. These men, in so simple a case 
as this, were confined six months in the dreadful dun- 
geons of Panama before they, or their prosecutor for 
them, could get a trial, and this, too, notwithstanding 
the efforts of their consuls, who were the representa- 
tives of no smaller States than England and America ! 

These, as I have said, were simple cases, in which 
only foreigners were concerned. What may not the 
law become when conflicting political and party in- 
terests are at stake ? 

Well might Yasco Nunez supplicate the king that 
no bachelor-of-law should be allowed to come to these 
parts of Terra-firma, saying *' that they were not only 
bad themselves, but they also made and kept alive a 
thousand lawsuits and iniquities." 

This regulation, which was to be "greatly for his 
Highness's service, for the land is hew,"* would, it 
appears to me, almost bear introduction in the new 
constitution of the United States of Colombia. 

But if lawyers abound, and law is so abundantly 

* Vasco Xunez. " Letter to the King of Spain," Jan. 20, 1513, quoted 
in " The Conquerors of the New World and their Bondsmen." 


plentiful, while justice is so difficult to obtain in the 
present day, there is yet, perhaps, in this respect, a 
better state of things now than was the case a few 
years ago. 

I remember in 1855 witnessing a terrible act of 
lynch-law, which the authors of it excused as having 
been forced upon them by repeated instances of the 
apathy of the authorities and corruption of the legal 
tribunals. It may be briefly told as follows. A car- 
penter of one of the American steam-ship companies, 
together with his wife, had newly arrived at the Island 
of Taboga ; and this poor fellow, who was employed as 
a foreman, and sometimes paid the men under him, 
was one morning dragged from his bed, stabbed in the 
neck, shoulders, and other parts of the body, and 
thrown out dead on the rocks beneath his cottage. 
His wife, fortunately, was able to effect her escape in 
the village, together with their young child, who was 
sleeping in the same room. Three men were arrested 
by the officers of the ships (in the absence of police) 
as having been concerned in this crime ; one of the 
three confessed to his own guilt and to that of the 
other two, and at five o'clock on the following day 
these three men were hanged by the company's em- 
ployes in the village of Taboga ! — ail under the eye 
of the local authorities, who looked passively on at 
this sad scene, and afterwards pardoned the chief insti- 
gators of the lynch-law. 

[ 21T ] 


Climate.— Sanitary Kegnlations. — Prudence required in living. — Society. — - 
Women. — Dress. — Men. — Bull-teasing. 

Before proceeding farther in our description of 
Panama, it may not be amiss, now that the reader has 
safely arrived thus far, to give him some information 
regarding the climate and health of the place, and it 
is certainly no less than a duty to dispel by all fair 
and truthful means the unfavourable impression which 
generally prevails on this subject. Much, it must be 
confessed, tends to create and foster this impression. 
The reputation which Panama some years ago, perhaps 
not unjustly, acquired, and the very looks of its 
bilious-hke population, are of themselves sufficient to 
create and foster anything but a favourable idea on the 
matter. Certainly, it must be said that the climate 
does " take the shine out of one," does destroy all the 
freshness and colour of the old country, but this is a 
phase actually afPecting only the long residents. "Are 
those ladies in a decline, sir ?" inquired an American 
lady who met for the first time two of her sex who 
had spent some months at Panama. This question, I 
think, conveys a good idea of Vvliat the climate does 
for one's appearance, but I do not think anything very 


much more serious ought to be said of it. I do not 
beHeve it positively destroys the health even of the 
residents_, under several years, and really the passenger 
merely passing through Panama has no cause to fear, 
as many persons do fear, before they arrive. 

But of all the people who fear most the climate of 
Panama are the Chilians ; indeed, they seem to have a 
special and almost political dread of the Isthmus. I 
have heard the natives of Chili congratulate them- 
selves on their safe passage across the Isthmus, as if 
they had passed through an infected city. This feel- 
ing is in some degree attributable to the circumstance 
of the Panama route having become a rival route to 
the west coast of South America. In old times most 
of the vessels taking merchandise to and from the 
northern part of the coast called in on their way at 
Valparaiso for supplies, &c. This profitable commerce 
would, of course, have continued and increased with 
the growth of the South American States had not the 
route by way of the Isthmus become available. 

A recent writer on the subject of the climate of 
Panama says, with much force : " I have never heard 
a truthful report of the climate of Panama. It is the 
fashion to report it as a burning, fiery furnace, and 
pestilential. I would not call it either the one or the 
other. In our house (it was a cool one) the ther- 
mometer ranged from 78° to 84° Fahrenheit. I 
never knew it higher. I have even known the tem- 
perature to fall as low as 72°, and after a good spell of 
Panama we feel that cold. The dry season, com- 


mencing nominally in December and lasting until 
April, is the healthiest, and the first part of it the 
pleasantest. In December and January the intense 
heat has not set in ; only in the morning, until the 
norther, as it is called, begins, the warmth is oppres- 
sive. By five P.M. it is becoming cool, and through 
the night the fine fresh wind is delightfully refreshing. 
I have always found March and April most trying — 
then is the heat felt sensibly, and the efiects are very 

" The rainy season is up to a certain time merely 
showery, uncertain weather, and summer lightning, 
vivid enough, may be seen every night. Later there 
are terrific storms, sharp, short, and angry, and such 
crashes of thunder that the old crazy town seems 
falling in one mighty smash, succeeded by tropical 
rain in vast sheets, as if heaven opened to pour forth 
its seas upon the earth. "^ 

Before the opening of the railway, and probably 
owing to the immense amount of human life which 
was lost in that undertaking, the Isthmus of Panama 
obtained the reputation of being one of the most 
unhealthy places to be found away from the coast of 
Africa. Perhaps, looking to the sad results which are 
known to us, the reputation was not undeserved ; but 
it was hardly to be expected that the emigrant fresh 
from a temperate climate could endure, without sufier- 
ing therefrom, the hardships and privations of the 
several days' transit across the Isthmus, deprived as he 

* " Panama as a Home," in " All the Year Round," May 9, 1863. 


was of the common necessaries of life, often unaccom- 
panied by a change of clothing, left without a proper 
sleeping place at night, and always exposed during the 
trip to the sun, rain, and miasma of a tropical climate. 
There is no doubt, therefore, that a great deal of sick- 
ness was experienced by passengers crossing the 
Isthmus previously to the year 1855 ; and hence, I 
take it, was the origin of " Panama fever." Dampier 
tells us that gentlemen that came from Peru to 
Panama, especially in the months of June, July, and 
August, '' cut their hair close, to preserve them from 
fever, for the place was sickly to them, as they came 
out of a country which never hath any rains, but 
enjoys a constant serenity;" but even he "was apt to 
believe the city is healthy enough to other people." 

Happily for the traveller, this cause of sickness is 
all over now. The passenger of to-day as safely makes 
the transit of the Isthmus, as he may visit any tropical 
country ; and unless one particularly wishes to keep his 
head cool, there is no reason or advantage in his 
adopting the apparent former practice of the Peruvians, 
of "cutting his hair close to preserve him from 

The year here is divided into two seasons. The 
rainy, which commences about the middle of April, 
and lasts until the middle of December ; and the dry, 
which extends over the remaining four months. The 
thermometer (Fahrenheit) ranges in Panama from 72* 
to 92°, but these are two extreme points, and are very 
seldom attained, the average being between 78° and 


86°, or in the dry season an average of 86° in the 
shade in the day, and 78° in the evening. In the wet 
season, about 83° in the day, and from 75° to 76° at 
night ; and when the sun is vertical, an increase of 
about 2° may be added. During the dry season the 
breezes are from the north, and this wind is by far the 
most healthy. In the wet season the breezes are 
southerly, and less healthy. Upon the whole, how- 
ever, it may be said that Panama is really more 
healthy than most places situated in the tropics. The 
diseases which prevail chiefly amongst the inhabitants 
are miasmatic fevers and bowel complaints, which, in 
the great majority of cases, yield to proper treatment. 
Epidemics do not prevail here extensively; and, 
although cases of yellow fever occur sometimes among 
the passengers arriving from St. Thomas, Havannah, 
and New Orleans, with which ports there is frequent 
communication, this fever does not spread amongst 
the natives or old foreign residents. No quarantine 
regulations exist, or have existed for many years, and 
under no circumstances is quarantine imposed ; but as 
far as can be ascertained, with the exception of occa- 
sional cases, the general sanitary state of the vessels 
from time to time in the harbour is good. Few 
vessels, however, now arrive at Panama, but passenger 
steamers, which necessarily remain only a short time 
in the harbour. 

Her Majesty's Consul, in his report on Panama, 
which was presented to Parliament in 1863, says: 
''Passengers may, perhaps, be diverted from the 


Isthmus when other means of communication exist, in 
consequence of the almost universal impression of the 
unhealthiness of the climate. This impression is 
entirely erroneous, and it would be well, so long at 
least as no choice exists, if it were removed. No 
epidemic maladies, and no diseases beyond those 
common in the most healthy countries, are known at 
Panama, with the exception of a light class of inter- 
mittent fever, which, though extremely injurious to 
foreign constitutions, in combination with the debili- 
tating effects of a tropical climate, only takes root 
after a certain term of residence, and is perfectly 
innocent on those merely passing through, or making 
but a short stay on the Isthmus." * 

In the latter months of 1863, Panama was, however, 
seriously affected by small-pox, which dreadful epidemic 
extended even to the native villages at the islands, 
which are always more free from sickness than the 
mainland. In Panama it was a terrible scourge, as 
few of the poorer classes had been vaccinated. In one 
part of the Island of Taboga, too, the deaths from this 
disease were one in fifty-five of the estimated popula- 
tion. Nor were the lower animals exempt from the 
wide-spread epidemic influence. In one month, at the 
small village I have referred to, fowls, ducks, pigs, and 
cows died. With all this warning, it was truly 
astonishing to observe the obstinate ignorance of 
these unfortunate people. It was with the greatest 

* Commercial Reports received at the Foreign Office from Her Majesty's 


difficulty that the foreign surgeons could bring about 
vaccination, or anything approaching to sanitary regu- 
lations, and it was not until the poorer part of the 
population had been decimated that even a hospital 
was estabHshed for the sufferers. 

This is even a worse state of things than existed in 
the time of the Spaniards ; for in the year 1804 an 
expedition arrived from Spain with the object of pro- 
pagating vaccination, in order that it might spread 
throughout the Spanish colonies, and save the colonists 
from that formidable scourge which carried every year 
so many victims to the grave.* 

And yet there was no law in Panama in 1863 to 
compel vaccination. Those who refused to subject 
themselves to it, in many cases did so from a belief 
that it would induce an attack of small-pox. " Oftener, 
however, they alleged that if Grod intends yon shall 
have the disease, you will get it whether vaccinated or 
not, and that accordingly it is contagious only so far 
as He makes it so. In the face of so much ignorance 
and superstition, it was clearly the duty of the 
authorities to make the operation compulsory on all 
those not vaccinated, or otherwise protected."! 

This case serves to show how little Panama is 
indebted to sanitary regulations for the general 
absence of epidemics that exist. The only wonder 
is that, with aU. the dirt and habitual dirtiness that 
prevails, the town is half so healthy as it really is. 

* Restrepo's " Historia de Colombia." 
t Report of an English Surgeon, 1863. 


But for the carrion birds, the useful " gallinaso," who 
does the work that man should do, Panama would soon 
attain to her former notoriety, as the generator of all 
kinds of fevers. 

As I have said, it is upon the resident that effects 
of the climate are telling. The new comer, if he 
escapes the initiatory fever of acclimatisation, goes on 
pretty well for the first few months. He even bears 
the heat tolerably, and wonders why people complain 
so much about it. He has found it hotter in New 
York, Paris, or London in the summer ; and so it is. 
But a second rainy season comes, and with it more loss 
of energy. He is, perhaps, less constant in his out- 
door exercise, and his digestion consequently becomes 
affected. It is then that the climate really begins to 
tell upon one, and a change becomes necessary, abso- 
lutely necessary, to most European constitutions. It 
is striking to observe this effect upon all classes of 
foreigners. A tradesman comes out from a temperate 
climate full of energy, and contempt for the indolent 
shopkeepers and mechanics of the Isthmus, but after a 
few short months his energies fail him. He sits in 
his shop with his feet cocked up on the back of a 
chair, like a true Yankee, and he will hardly take the 
trouble to rise when his customers go in to buy ; 
indeed, he seems generally most happy if he can say 
he has not the article asked for. 

" In Panama women thrive not. The children are 
large and forward, though very pale, an effect of the 
heat ; but the women, ladies, and peasants are miserably 


lean and sallow, seldom, especially foreigners, keeping 
their health. The small temptation to walk prevents 
their taking exercise ; the heat, no winter bracing them 
up, debilitates ; they languish, lose strength, appetite, 
colour, grow old prematurely, yet rarely die suddenly 
or before their time. Intermittent fever and ague 
is common, and once the constitution receives that 
taint, nothing but change of climate eradicates it. 
Frequently, after sufficient change, they are enabled 
to retm-n, and enjoy as good health as a tropical 
climate can bring to those accustomed to a temperate 
one. * 

Prudence and care in living are, perhaps, more ne- 
cessary in Panama than in many other places, and this 
the traveller should be careful to remember. It is by 
all means important to avoid too great an exposure to 
the sun and rain, and particularly advisable not to in- 
dulge too freely in the tempting fruits or inferior iced 
liquors which are offered to the " thirsty soul " who 
has worked himself up to fever heat in looking after 
his luggage, and disputing with the negro porter. 

In the rainy season the climate is the most trying 
to the residents. The air is heavier, and before each 
shower almost stifling. You are then, too, deprived of 
the opportunity of taking out-door exercise. For days 
together the rain does not cease ; for although it does 
not rain all day long, it rains in such torrents at cer- 
tain periods of the day that the roads out *of the town 
become almost impassable, and the town becomes damp 

* " Panama as a Home," in " All the Year Round," May 9, 1863. 



and disagreeable. It most frequently rains, too, of an 
afternoon, which is just the hour one naturally selects 
to go out in. 

What is generally experienced in Panamd^ particu- 
larly after two or three years residence without change, 
is a sort of lassitude, with a disinclination to exertion, 
and a derangement more or less of the digestive organs, 
all which in the course of time doubtless has a depres- 
sing effect upon the nervous system, and I think people, 
consequently, become here, less amiable and sociable ; 
but this I take it, too, is in much owing to the mono- 
tonous life one is really obliged to lead, and from which 
there is no escape. There is nothing which approaches 
the name of recreation or amusement in Panama, the 
one or two solitary drives or rides, after having lost 
their novelty, become more an object of duty towards 
one's own health than of pleasure. For myself, I have 
often and often mounted my horse when I would have 
preferred lying down in my hammock, but for the 
consequences that would follow, for exercise here is all- 
important. Mr. TroUope, speaking of Panama, says : 
" The heat made me uncomfortable, but never made 
me ill. I lost all pleasure in eating, and indeed in 
everything else. I used to feel a craving for my 
food, but no appetite when it came. I was lethargic, 
as though from repletion when I did eat, and always 
glad when my watch would allow me to go to bed ; 
but I was never ill." * This is exactly the case, and the 
more does one experience this sort of feeling the longer 

* " West Indies and Spanish Main." 


one remains here. The great resource, which may be 
enjoyed in other places, of reading, is here almost im- 
possible, simply because the resident begins the day 
half tired, and the book surely sends you to sleep ; and 
then as regards the heat, there is in this particular really 
no perceptible change of season, nothing to invigorate 
one. As an Irishman once expressed it to me, it is never 
at any season of the year cooler at Panama ; it may in 
some months be hotter than in others, but never by 
any chance cooler ; one feels this, although it cannot 
be denied that the excessive heat of the day is tem- 
pered by the early morning and evening breezes in the 
dry season. Then, too, there is very little of what is 
called '' society " here. The lady part of the native 
population are exceeding reserved, and the visiting 
that is kept up is carried on, on a tremendous system, 
of etiquette which bores and fatigues one ; while the 
young men of the place, even those who have been edu- 
cated abroad, seem to prefer their own society in dirty 
cafes and billiard-rooms, to that of their sisters and 
lady friends. The foreigners almost as little associate 
with themselves, and only most ceremoniously with 
the natives. Yet one sees as pretty a collection of 
young ladies, and as many eligible young gentlemen 
as the ladies require, when any one has energy enough 
to get up a ball. But a foreigner, even after several 
months' residence at Panama, would wonder where 
these pretty young ladies all came from ; and after the 
ball he might remain as many months more without 
seeing any of them again, unless perchance at an early 

Q 2 


morning mass. With such elements as these it is 
perhaps to be regretted that there is not more society 
at Panama — more of the pleasure of visiting, and less 
of the form. 

As Eliot Warburton truly said : *' On entering a 
strange country, its women are the first objects of in- 
terest, to the moralist as well as to the epicurean ; to the 
former, because the education of a people and the 
framework of its society depend mainly upon the ma- 
ternal and domestic character; to the latter, because 
almost every grace and charm of daily life is owing to 
her influence, or interwoven with her being. ' On a 
dit, qu'il y a de-la femme dans tout ce qu'on aime.' " * 

In few places in South America is it, I think, more 
difficult to maintain social relation with women of the 
better classes than in Panama. In all South American 
society access to the best portion of it is more or less dif- 
ficult or easy ; but in Panama, where there is so much 
reserve and etiquette, and where the number of '' good 
families " is so few, a very long time is required to 
establish a footing of intimacy where it is really de- 
sirable. Von Tempsky says truly, in his work on 
Mexico : " The morality of women of Spanish descent 
is not in high repute amongst Europeans ; yet by 
most persons this impression is carried far beyond 
truth and justice. Such impressions originate from 
the report of travellers anxious only for amusement on 
short notice, who consequently see only the worst — 
the scum that swims on the surface — as neither their 

* " Crescent and the Cross." 

WOMEN. 229 

time, facilities, nor inclination, perhaps, suffice to enable 
them to search for real worth." ^ 

The Panamenas as a rule are graceful, pretty, and 
ladylike, affectionate daughters, good wives and 
mothers, and industrious to a degree little credited by 
foreigners, even by long residents in Panama. I have 
known whole families almost supported by the needle- 
work of the daughters of the household ; yet these 
girls were none the less young ladies ; they saw only 
the merit of their work ; it did not make them descend 
to the scale of the " couturier e " in Europe. 

I may quote Prescott, and say : '' The upper classes, 
if the term can be used in a complete democracy, have 
not the luxurious finish and accommodation to be 
found in the other hemisphere. The humbler classes 
have not the poverty-stricken, cringing spirit of hope- 
less inferiority." Every man not only professes to be, 
but is practically, on a footing of equality with his 
neighbour." f 

Considering the little means of education available 
for the better classes of girls in Panama, there being no 
private schools and few persons capable of teaching, 
there is much to be said in praise of the industrious 
and economical habits of the Panamenas in the higher 
walks of hfe. 

The women of the lower classes are, however, very 
low in the social scale ; and far less can be said in their 
praise than in that of their betters. The little educa- 

* " Mitla," by Von Tempsky. 
t Prescott's Essays, " Madame Calderon's Life in Mexico." 


tion in the one case amounts to none in tlie other. 
Marriage, too, among the coloured and negro women 
is the exception rather than the rule ; and teaching on 
this head appears to be of little avail. What every- 
body does is hardly thought wrong. " Why don't you 
marry ?" inquired a friend of mine of a young woman 
who had already two children by her side ; ''your hus- 
hand (for so the father of the children is often called) 
tells me he is very willing to do so/ but that you will 
not consent." "Ah, nina,""* she replied, "marriage is 
not for us poor people, it is all very well for the 
hlancos ;f but as soon as we are married our husbands 
cease to love us." If this is so, and I suppose it is, 
it is difficult to combat such an argument ; but I think 
the ladies of Panama, by their very good nature and 
kind dispositions, are responsible in no small degree 
for the state of things they complain of. They accept 
the present evil too much as a matter of course ; and 
it is no uncommon event for a young lady of one of 
the best families to be the godmother of a child born 
out of wedlock. " But why do you encourage such 
people ?" I asked a lady friend of mine who had taken 
as a maid-servant a young unmarried girl with a baby. 
" Poor girl," my friend replied, " if I do not protect 
her now, she will soon have to support two children, 
whether she would or no." There is a spirit of charity 
in such sentiments as these, but I almost fear that 

* Young lady — the title of " young lady," or " Nina," is applied alike 
to married and unmarried ladies in Panama, as " Sefiorita " is in Lima and 
other places in Peru. " Sefiora " is applied only to ladies of a certain age. 

t White people. 

DRESS. ■ 231 

such indulgence is too frequent to be understood and 

Tlie dress of the ladies of Panama is now almost 
European. Even the pretty and convenient custom in 
this hot climate, of walking in the street with the hair 
prettily dressed and adorned with flowers, has, like the 
"Saya i manta" of the Limena, almost passed away 
under the iron rule of civilization. We now see in 
Panama stupid little French hats, which neither protect 
the face from the sun nor add to the charms of the 
wearers. Oh, ye gazelle-like girls, and luxurious 
hammocks of the olden time, and are we to lose you, 
too, because there is a railway ! 

The women of the lower classes wear what are 
called polleras, being low dresses without sleeves, and 
with lace trimmings on the bust. This dress, unless 
well made, is very untidy, but when clean and properly 
worn, it is not ungraceful, nor unsuitable to the 
climate, f The servants and coloured women are, how- 
ever, exceedingly untidy with regard to their feet. 
They slip along the streets, and, if one will allow it, 
about the house in a way that set all my nerves ajar. 
This habit originates in a desire to make the feet 
appear very small on gala days, when new tight shoes 
are worn ; and as it is impossible that these shoes can 

* The lower classes are improvident as they are poor. They are fond of 
dress and j&nery on gala days, and invest all their savings in jewellery, 
such as chains and ornamental hair-combs, to be sold or pawned in days of 

t The native labourer wears only cotton or linen trousers, and a shirt, 
and generally no shoes. 


do everyday work, they are worn down at heel as 
slippers when the everyday work has to be done. 

The colour in dress which most prevails among Loth 
men and women at Panama is black, while no colour 
could be more unsuitable for so hot a climate. The 
Panameiios, however, cling to mourning v^ith a 
tenacity that is truly terrific. Each family seems to 
vie with its neighbour as to who shall longest hug 
their grief, and wear the solemn, and in this climate, 
health-destroying black. It is no unusual thing for 
mourning to be worn for near relations for three and 
four years, and as many of the families are connected 
one with another by marriage, mourning naturally 
becomes the common dress of the native inhabitants. 
The effect on the health of this custom is most inju- 
rious, and to women especially so. 

The young men have agreeable manners, and those 
who apply themselves with perseverance to their pro- 
fession, generally display therein more than an average 
share of ability; but the great drawback to their 
success is want of application, and of steadiness of 
purpose. They, like their sisters, are exceedingly 
kind and attached to their immediate families and kin, 
and in many respects they are good sons and brothers, 
but unfortunately the stupid politics of their country 
appear to offer the greatest attraction to the whole 
community. What Mr. Perry, then her Majesty's 
Consul at Panama, wrote to Captain Liot in 1845, 
may truly be repeated in 1865: — "You will confess 
that nature has been sufficiently bountiful in this long 

MEK 233 

neglected but beautiful country, and you will join me 
in tlie wish that its wonderful resources may, ere long, 
be taken advantage of. The Spanish race (I mean of 
men), are not fond of husbandry, and prefer some 
trumpery government employment, which gives them 
about 2001. per annum, to the more noble and ancient 
task of tilling, ' grata tellus,' which never deceives her 
votary." * This is so now, and indeed it is incredible 
the time that is wasted, if not more seriously misspent, 
by even the most respectable of the young men, in the 
dirty little coffee-shops and billiard-rooms of the town. 
But this, I take it, is in much owing to the want of a 
proper means of recreation, to which I have referred in 
a former page. 

Nearly all the male inhabitants of the town are 
more or less conversant with the English language, 
which is now generally spoken, as well as Spanish. 
This has been acquired first from the frequent com- 
munication which was formerly carried on with 
Jamaica, and latterly by the great influx of American 
passengers to and from California, and from the 
employes of the railway company. 

The Panamenos, however, with all their inter- 
course with the world, appear as secluded in their 
domestic life as in the time before the opening of the 
railway, or before the Californian emigration. Their 
domestic life is passed as was passed that of their 
ancestors, the Spaniards, in the time of Philip II. ; 
"in the same unvaried circle of habits, opinions, and 

* " Commimications between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans." 


prejudices, to the exclusion and probable contempt of 
everything foreign." 

If, however, the better classes experience the want 
of recreation to which I have alluded, and the want of 
an occasional escape from the routine and monotony of 
every-day life, this plea can hardly be urged for the 
lower orders, if one may judge from the night-dances, 
tambor-playing, and street brawling which constantly 
takes place, to the annoyance of the quieter part of the 
community. At certain times of the year, too, and on 
special seasons of rejoicing, as in the carnival month, 
for instance, these people are given to incipient 
masquerading. This takes place most frequently in 
daylight, and in the most public streets. This mania 
(for those who perform give one the idea that they are 
maniacs) generally lasts for three or four days at a 
spell. The costumes are of the most meagre descrip- 
tion, and the principal "gracia" of this amusement 
appears to consist in running about the streets, and 
squeaking at the passers-by in a miserable falsetto 

My wife's maid, a Frenchwoman, gave the following 
description of this in a letter to her friend at Paris : 
" II ya a present tout plein de masques dans les rues, 
comme a Paris pendant le Carnaval, seulement qu ici 
ce sont de vilains negres qui n'ont pas besoin de 
masques pour faire peur." 

Another of the popular amusements in Panama is, 
to this day, bull-fighting, nay, rather bull-teasing. 
Those who have formed an idea of this barbarous sport 


from what they have witnessed in Spain, Mexico, or 
Peru, can hardly fancy to what it has descended in 
Panama. At the first bull-fight at which I was 
present in Peru — nay, the only one, for it was enough 
for me — one man, four horses, and eleven bulls were 
killed, and this was only an ordinarily grand field-day. 
As a contrast, I will attempt to describe the bull-fight 
in Panama, which takes place on the occasion of the 
celebration of any public event, or at any time that the 
populace wish to be particularly jolly. It is also often 
a delicate attention from a young man to his sweet- 
heart on her birthday. An nnfortunate bull is hired 
from its owner, probably the butcher, who has bought 
him for the market. This animal (the bull, not the 
butcher) is then led by a cord into the most public 
streets, and here the enlightened " sport " commences. 
Any one among the crowd of followers may challenge 
the victim, and some half-dozen generally do so about 
the same time. The poor animal, when sufiiciently 
teased, makes an occasional rush at his enemies, but as 
he is always safely secured by the cord trailing on the 
ground, it is rare that any one comes to grief, as one 
almost desires should be the case. The only sufferers 
from this unrefined cruelty are the unfortunate bull_, 
and those persons who have to take by-streets to get 
out of the way. After the first animal is tired out, he 
is delivered back to the butcher, and, if the sportsmen 
are in funds, a second is taken out to replace him. 
An American with some wit once endeavoured to give 
the Panamenos a lesson on this subject, but it does not 


appear to have had much effect. He had received from 
California a large bear, and one day on the birth of a 
child, he turned the bear loose in the streets. As may 
be imagined, every one made off, even the bravest of 
the bull-fighters. It was some time before the bear 
was replaced in confinement. Most indignant remon- 
strances were, of course, made by the good citizens to 
the Yankee, who coolly replied that he did not see why 
he should not turn his bear loose in the streets when 
he was inclined to be jolly, as well as the other inhabi- 
tants their bulls. And w^hy not, say we ? 

Cock-fighting is also still indulged in Panama on 
Sundays and holidays. The fighting-cocks may be 
seen every day tied by their legs to nails at their 
owner's doors. The lower orders, and an occasional 
priest, are, however, almost the only persons who now 
take part in this cruelty. 

Horse-riding, and of late years more generally driving, 
i^, as I have remarked, the only recreation of the better 
classes of the residents, and more particularly of 
foreigners. Since the opening of the railway, twenty 
or more American carriages have found their way to 
Panama, together with a few good horses from New 
York, Jamaica, and South America. The native 
horses are a small, hardy, but inferior race. They 
live, indeed, chiefly on grass, and unless specially 
educated to corn, will not touch it. They appear to 
have greater powers of endurance than their masters 
in this trying climate, and are often made to go a 
whole day's journey on a scanty meal of dry grass, 


eaten perhaps the night previously. The native horse, 
however, is chiefly used on the cattle estates, while his 
rival, the foreigner, is employed for riding and driving 
in the town. The natives copy the Spaniard in the 
management of their horses, and as Von Tempsky 
says of the Mexicans, " their management partakes at 
times a httle of affectation, particularly in promenades, 
apparently curbing their high-spirited animals, they 
are in reahty forcing them into action. This affection 
becomes thoroughly ridiculous when (as is often the 
case at Panama) the horse is a perfectly inoffensive 
animal, imperturbable in temper and manner," * 

* YonTempsky's"Mitla." ' 



Heligion. — Hospitals. — Cemeteries. — Market. — Cost of living. — Servants. 
Labour. — Insects. 

According to the constitution of the State, there is 
perfect freedom of religious worship at Panama. The 
constitution guarantees the free profession, either 
public or private, of any religion ; but in the exercise 
of it no acts are permitted which are considered 
incompatible with the sovereignty of the nation or 
that of the State, and the Government of the state 
exercises the right of guardianship over religious 
corporations and their ministers. The religion of the 
native population is still Eoman Catholic, which was 
preserved as the State religion on the declaration of 
independence, but which is in no way recognised now, 
or protected by the Government, and under the recent 
rule of the " Liberals," less so than ever. Indeed, the 
"Liberal " Government decreed the appropriation of the 
whole of the Church property, and literally expelled 
the whole body of the Catholic priests. 

The laws of 1863 and 1864 appear to have been 
framed with the view of bringing the Eoman Catholic 
Church completely under the authority of the State. 
The law of 1863 required that no minister of any of 


the forms of worship estabhshed, or to be established 
in the nation, should exercise the functions of his 
ministry without taking previously, before the first 
political authority of the place in which he was to 
exercise it, the oath to obey the constitution, laws, and 
authority of the Eepublic and of the State, and to 
submit himself to and respect the sovereignty of the 
nation. Those who did not comply with the provi- 
sions of this law were to be banished from the United 
States of Colombia ; or if they did not comply, and pre- 
tended, notwithstanding, to exercise their ministry, 
they were to be punished as disturbers of the public 
peace. By the same law the establishment of regular 
rehgious communities or corporations was, without 
distinction, prohibited, while those which existed in 
the nation were extinguished. 

It was not to be expected that the Eoman Catholics, 
who for a long series of years had been accustomed to 
manage their own affairs in their own way, would 
consent to this interference on the part of the Govern- 
ment. The bishop left immediately, and the priests 
one by one followed his example, and so the churches 
were closed, the bells ceased to ring, and poor Panama 
had even to bury its own dead in silence, and without 
the of&ces of any minister. Indeed, so rigidly were 
these edicts observed in Panama, that when an 
English Eoman Catholic missionary, who was passing 
through on his way to San Francisco, ventured to 
baptize and say mass in private, without first having 
conformed to the law, he was cited before the autho- 


rities, and with difficulty was enabled to leave Panama 
by the steamer by which his passage was taken. 

In 1864 these decrees were modified, but not in 
a manner to afford much gain to the Catholics. The 
Government still reserved itself the right of inspection 
over the forms of worship, but made the oath of sub- 
mission to the constitution and laws compulsory 
only with the chiefs of the church and those 
holding hierarchical authority. Yet those who com- 
plied with, or caused to be complied with, bulls, or 
orders emanating from any authority residing in a 
foreign country, without first having obtained per- 
mission of the executive power of the Union^ were 
to be considered as attacking the sovereignty of the 
nation, and he who in the exercise of his ministry 
denied to the Government this right of inspection 
was also considered to offend in the same manner, 
and to be punished by six years' banishment from 
the territory. By this law was also prohibited the 
admission on the territory of any agent of the Eoman 
See, or any bishop or vicar not a native of the United 
States of Colombia. 

In consequence of these laws, and of the proceed- 
ings of the Government in taking possession of the 
property of the Church, the whole of the Eoman 
Catholic clergy left Panama, and for upwards of a 
year the churches remained without a bell tolling or 
a minister officiating. 'Jhe modification of the law 
in May, 1864, led, however, to the return of some 
of the priests, and service has again been performed 


since that time. But the bishop did not so return, and 
it is not probable, while the ^' Liberals " are in power, 
that the Church will regain much more of her lost 
ground. The Catholic clergy hitherto residing at 
Panama have not been of a very high order, and 
have not, I think, taken great pains to enlighten 
their flock, hence there is much ignorance and 
superstition among the lower classes and those who 
are uneducated; indeed, it is not too much to say 
of the priesthood of Panama, that they had fallen 
into a lamentable decay of both discipline and morals. 
That the mind or morals of the inhabitants suffered 
much from the absence of the indolent, ignorant 
priests who left the Isthmus in 1862, one is certainly 
incHned to doubt ; and it is much to be desired that 
on the re-establishment of the religion in the State a 
better order of things may accompany it. 

Panama, we are told, was made a bishop's see in the 
year 1521; and it was the first erected in Terra 
Pirma, being next after that of Santo Domingo. 
Until the year 1862 it continued to be the residence 
of a bishop ; but, as I have said, " the moral and inte- 
lectual improvements, from its ancient abundance of 
clerical and educationary establishments, have left but 
little traces among the people in general. The 
religious fervour which the convents of the order of 
San Prancisco, Santo Domingo, La Merced, and the 
barefooted Augustines must have laboured hard to 
promote, is scarcely now to be seen or felt." * 

♦ Panama *' Star and Herald." 



The people of Panama submitted almost without a 
murmur to having their churches closed, and to seeing 
the Government take possession of the Church 
property. A few years ago the idea of such an 
occurrence would have brought the whole population 
to arms ; but all extremes are evil. In the days of the 
republic of Colombia the Eoman Catholic religion was 
established and maintained by law ; but more liberality 
prevailed then in this country than in almost any 
of the Spanish American States. In the first session 
of Congress, in the year 18.21, the detestable inquisi- 
tion was abolished, and in the earliest treaties with 
foreign States liberty of worship was guaranteed to 

The Church and clergy of New Granada were 
sustained in the time of the Spaniards by the 
" diezmos " or tithes which the Pope, Alexander the 
Sixth, conceded to the Catholics of Spain from the 
first discovery of America. At the commencement 
of the revolution in Colombia the revenue from this 
source in the bishopric of Panama was 35,000 dollars. 
The clergy of the bishopric was composed at this time 
of 89 secular and 25 regular, in all 114. The Jesuits 
were expelled from New Granada, to the astonish- 
ment of the other Spanish colonies, on the 30th 
July, 1767. This powerful body possessed a great 
influence with the New Granadians, acquired by their 
religious services to the people, who venerated them, 
together with their riches, and by the education of 
the young. They were, however, expelled from aU 


the colleges in one night, and the government of the 
king took possession of their rich properties.* 

Several attempts have from time to time been 
made by the foreign Protestant residents, for the 
establishment of ministers of that Church at Panama 
but with only partial success ; the foreign residents 
being few in number and of various sects, while the 
pecuniary resources available have been insufficient 
for the object. In the latter end of 1864, however, 
the South American Missionary Society, aided by 
subscriptions from the several steam-packet companies 
trading with the Isthmus, sent out a clergyman to 
Panama whose arrangements, at the time I write, 
are to perform service on Sunday mornings at 
Panama, and on Sunday evenings at the Island of 
Tobago. There is no Protestant church at Panama, 
and the residence of the United States consul was 
first selected as the place in which to hold services. 
This same chaplain also performs service at Colon 
on the first Sunday of each month, on which occasion 
the service at Panama is omitted. 

Previously to these arrangements, the Protestant 
residents at Panama, with the exception of an 
occasional service performed by the chaplain of a 
man-of-war in port, had been left to their own 
resources for religious instruction. Indeed, steamers 
arrive and depart, and cargo is discharged and 
embarked under the superintendence of English and 
American employes on Sundays as on week-days ; and 

* Restrepo's " Historia de la Revolucion de Colombia." 

R 2 


there is very little in the general appearance of the 
town to indicate even a day of rest, except it be the 
closing of some of the shops towards the afternoon. 

There is still a native hospital at Panama under 
the management, or perhaps I should rather say the 
mzVmanagement of the local authorities. As may 
be expected, it is no credit to those officially connected 
with it ; for Spanish America is of all countries not 
great in this particular; and here the cleanliness, 
nursing, and medical aid are worse than indifferent. 
There is, happily, however, a small foreign hospital 
supported chiefly by the French and Italian residents. 
This institution, which is well conducted, under the 
care of a good French physician, has saved the life 
of many a poor fellow who has arrived sick and 
friendless at Panama. During the time of the early 
Californian emigration, the Americans fitted up a 
ship as a hospital, which was an arrangement 
perhaps not un suited to the place and climate. 

There is also at Panama, in addition to the native 
cemetery, a small British burial-ground, apparently 
the smallest British cemetery that probably exists 
in any foreign country, but its appearance is so 
because only part of the ground granted for this 
purpose by the Government has yet been inclosed. 
Within the inclosure — a low stone wall — are the 
graves of those who lost their lives in Panama 
when in attendance on Bolivar's congress in the 
year 1826. 

The British Protestants who have died in Panama 


since this inclosed spot has become filled, have been 
interred near to it, or in the ground set apart for this 
purpose by the steam-packet companies on their 
islands. At the time I write this, it is proposed 
to inclose the whole of the ground granted to 
England some years ago by the old Government of 
Colombia, and also the spot near it which contains 
the graves of American citizens. It is to be hoped 
that this arrangement may be carried out. A 
proper foreign burial-ground has, however, so often 
been talked of that one almost fears that much will 
not be done in the matter. I presume the few foreign 
Protestants who live in Panama hope not to be 
buried there. The native cemetery is in the old 
Spanish style. It is a large inclosure containing a 
series of catacombs or vaults in the walls, which 
are let for a certain period to the friends of the 
deceased. In one of these vaults the coffin is placed, 
and bricked up, and some months afterwards the 
bones are removed to the church; but if they are 
not reclaimed at the proper time they are then 
thrown out to make room for new comers. There 
is something very revolting in all this to those who 
have seen a more civilized performance of the last sad 

A foreign lady generally finds herself surrounded 
by various and unknown difficulties on commencing 
housekeeping at Panama, and be her energies what 
they may, she must in the end almost resign herself 
to the tender mercies of her cook, by whom all the 


marketing is done at six o'clock in the morning. 
After this hour hardly anything eatable in the way 
of fresh provisions can be procured. At this time, 
or indeed as soon as daylight begins, buyers and 
sellers assemble in the square of " Santa Ana," which 
is set apart for market, and is surrounded by 
butchers' stalls and shops. Here, too, the native 
women take the fruit, fish, and vegetables which they 
deal in, as they sit or squat on the stones ; and here 
one's daily breakfast and dinner is bartered for by 
" cocinera " or '' el cocinero," as the case may be, 
against whom and whose tastes there is, alas, no 
appeal. However, as '*La Plaza" offers only beef, 
poultry, and eggs, and every day the same, there 
is not much scope for selection; more depends on 
the merit of la cuisine chez soi. Apropos of the fish : 
the name of Panama, in the old Indian language, 
signifies abounding in fishes. This has been more 
freely translated a fishy place ; which translation, all 
things considered, perhaps the reader of these pages 
will by this time not consider far from the mark, 
if the bad pun could be pardoned. Leaving this 
question for after discussion, we must, however, do 
justice to the excellent fish one gets here at almost 
all times abundantly, including the very perfection 
of oysters, which are gathered from the rocks near 
old Panama at low states of the tide. 

To give my readers an idea of the cost of actual 
living in Panama in the present day, I cannot do 
better than quote the average of the most important 


and necessary expenses, wliicli are as follows: — 
House rent, with, fair accommodation for a small 
family, from £100 to £200 per annum, according 
to the situation {that is, cool or hot) ; four native 
servants, £60, or the equivalent ; three Jamaica 
servants, £100 ; daily marketing bills, £200 ; wash- 
ing, £50 ; one horse and groom — not a luxury in this 
climate, but as much a necessity as the daily bath — 
£100 ; wine, beer, &c,, and clothing, of course 
depend upon the individual taste everywhere. These 
pay no duty, but are dear on account of the high 

A bachelor may Hve pretty well at the hotel, 
with apartments in a private house, for about £250 
per annum; and this system is adopted by most of 
the unmarried foreigners. 

The charges at the hotel for passengers are three 
doUars, or twelve shillings per day, exclusive of ice, 
wine, and baths. The table is occasionally both 
good and had^ but more generally indifferent. 

I have said, one must depend much on the cook, if 
housekeeping is to be undertaken in Panama ; but 
alas ! for the other servants. In this respect one is 
Hterally in a perpetual difficulty. The native servants, 
men and women alike, are, with but few exceptions, 
dirty, careless, untidy, lazy, independent, and insolent. 
The Jamaica negroes are almost, if not quite, as bad, 
with the only perceptible difference that they demand 
much higher wages, and make more noise. But if one 
gets out European servants they either marry and 


leave, or get really sick or home-sick and dissatisfied, 
so much so that it becomes necessary to send them 
back again. Of Europeans, however, French are the 
best adapted to the customs of the place, and the 
mode of living altogether. English servants, male 
and female, come to grief immediately. This question 
of servants is one of the greatest difficulties of do- 
mestic life in Panama, and one from which housekeepers 
of tender nerves suffer every day, and all day long. 
All servants in this country have a way of doing their 
work peculiar, I think, to Panama. For a long time 
my nerves were attacked by seeing the women about 
the house always slip-shod and decoUetee, and no efforts 
of mine, or rather of my European friends, were able 
to bring about a better state of things, even with the 
best of them. My wife used to make it a rule to give 
her maid-servants their shoes in order that they might 
at least be tidy in this particular, but it was of no 
avail, the shoemaker was always in league with the 
women, and the new shoes were invariably made too 
small. This was, I suppose, in order that a conquest 
might be made with the '^ swell" shoes for the first 
Sunday or two, and then they were run down at heel 
to the untidy slippers again. The propensity to carry 
everything on the head, too, is something more than 
remarkable. I remember a housemaid of ours, a really 
good servant for a native, who used to walk up-stairs 
at night with the jug of water in her hand and the 
candlestick on her head, and when there was no candle- 
stick to carry, the place of honour was given to the 


water-jug. The author of " Panama as Home" gives 
the following very fair account of domestic servants in 
Panama : 

" English and Americans usually hire West Indian 
or American negroes and negresses for their servants ; 
the natives are dull, lazy, and dirty, neither willing 
nor capable of being taught. As a rule, I found the 
Americans not to be trusted. There is the utterly 
degraded, coarse, brutal negro and mulatto (as a 
general rule, I prefer the genuine black man and 
woman, too) ; there is also the deeply hypocritical, 
Scripture-quoting, psalm-singing, Jamaica nigger, in 
whom put not your trust — these are invariably arrant 
impostors. Other blacks are zealous in service, honest, 
faithful, painstaking, and foolish ; they become deeply 
attached to you, and show you all sorts of delicate 
attentions in the way of offerings of flowers, cakes, 
fruits, &c. They bear your scoldings meekly, and, 
while the scolding is fresh in their minds, profit by it ; 
they have not a shade of common sense nor judgment ; 
they know little of morality ; they are untidy, variable 
in spirits^ pleasing in manner, likeable with all their 

My own experience of the Jamaica negroes at 
Panama is, that they perfectly conform to Ca. de 
Mosto's account of their African ancestors, who were 
** full of words, and never had done talking, and were 
for the most part liars and cheats." * 

But these difficulties are by no means confined to 

* " Conqueror of the New World." 


domestic servants only. Labour of any kind at 
Panama is not easily procured, and a fair day's work 
for a fair day's pay is, according to the European idea, 
out of the question. Life is by far too easy for the 
poorer classes for there to be any hope of these people 
becoming truly industrious ; as they say themselves, 
" It is never cold here ; " and where it is not cold, there 
is not much hunger. So long as a man can live and 
support his family upon a few baked plaintains * and 
a piece of dried meat or fish, and sleep soundly on the 
bare ground, he has but few wants, and these few 
wants he can readily provide for by one or two days' 
work a week — work that is performed lazily but 
dearly paid for. While this is so, he will hardly learn 
to appreciate the comforts of a better and more indus- 
trious life. Labourers and porters in the city earn a 
dollar a day. Those in the country about half as 

* " The banana, that bountiful plant, which seems to have relieved man 
from the primasval curse — if it were not rather a blessing — of toiling for 
his sustenance." — Prescott's " Peru," vol. i., page 139. 

The Plantain and Banana are of the same species. This plant is proved 
to have been indigenous to South America, It now grows almost without 
care on the Isthmus, and is literally the bread of the poorer classes of to- 
day, as it was in the time of the Incas. The unripe fruit roasted is cer- 
tainly an excellent substitute for bread. I have used it myself in the 
country for weeks together, in preference to bread, which could not be 
obtained freshly baked. On the cattle estates near Panama, where the 
" Vaqueros " have rations of beef served out to them as part of their wages, 
they usually exchange with one of the neighbours engaged in the cultiva- 
tion of the plantain, part of their beef for this fruit, and it is almost in- 
variably eaten unripe. 

"An acre sown with bananas will support more than fifty persons; 
whereas the same amount of land sown with wheat in Europe, will only 
support two persons." — Buckle. 

LABOUR. 251 

^' But let US be charitable towards the people who 
languish in this place, and let the apparent superiority 
of the one who tills the soil and fertilises it by the 
sweat of his brow — let his merit not blind us to the 
drawbacks in the way of development in the languid, 
and the stimulants that help the active. 

" It is well known that heat causes laziness, and 
cold activity; but to ascertain the difference, one 
should have experienced frequently sudden changes 
from the one to the other, and then he would know 
how exceedingly little wiU has to do with the dif- 
ference between what one accomplishes on a cold or a 
hot day's working ; — how very little, consequently, the 
result is attended by merit. I feel inclined to go even 
so far as to say that the little labour the tropical man 
accomplishes in a day is more worthy of approbation 
than the greater task performed by the man of the 
temperate zone ; for the former needs for its accom- 
phshment a greater moral effort, which is productive 
of more fatigue, whereas the industry of the latter is 
but an instinctive movement. 

" There can be no doubt as to the one class being* 
in effect lazy, and the other active ; but I wish merely 
to warn Europeans against expecting too much from 
the introduction of improved industry in countries of 
a tropical character." * 

" Will you lend me a couple of dollars, sir ?" said a 
man to me, whom I had occasionally employed. 
"Lend you two dollars," I replied; ''what for?'' 

* Von Tempsky on Guatemala. " Mitla," p. 315. 


" Please, sir, I owe this woman two dollars, and if I 
don't pay I shall be put in the calabozo.'"* *' But why 
don't you work?" I urged ; '' there is plenty of work 
to be had. I thought you were working at that new 
house that is being built." " So I was, sir, but that 
work was worth a dollar and a half a day, and the 
master only wanted to pay us a dollar, so we struck, 
and wouldn't work any longer." This is the sort of 
thing in very many instances ; and as the employer 
must have his labour, and as the labourer can live 
without work, the master, who is generally at Panama 
the weakest, goes to the wall. 

My wife once gave a boy from the country, who 
had been out all day on a long journey, a '* pillon " 
or thick saddle-cloth and some rugs to sleep upon. 
An hour afterwards I was astonished to find him flat 
on his face on the bare boards. '' Ah ! nina," he said 
in the morning, " how can you sleep on a bed when 
you have such delicious boards as these to lie upon ! " 
A native thinks himself well off if he has a hide 
between his body and the ground. 

Another of the numerous subjects of petty annoy- 
ance to the resident at Panama is the destruction by 
the climate and insects of almost all kinds of furni- 
ture, books, and clothing. This takes place to an 
almost incredible degree. It is nearly impossible to 
preserve furniture, especially anything which is not 
made of solid wood. A pianoforte hardly stands the 
climate,* and keeps in order for six months, while 

* Prison. 


the books and clothes which are not in daily 
use are devoured by the small insects with a cruel 

With regard to insects generally, however, there is 
not much else to fear. Scorpions, it is true, are to be 
met with in the old buildings, and the mosquitoes at 
certain seasons of the year are not wanting in their 
attention, but, happily for the residents, new comers 
are generally preferred by the mosquitoes. 

An Englishman of my acquaintance — nay, an Irish- 
man — who had resided many years in Panama, and 
who was very susceptible to the bite of mosquitoes, 
adopted an eccentric practice, which he assured me 
answered admirably, but I confess I was never tempted 
to try it. He made one small hole in his sheet — as a 
rule one is only covered here by a single sheet at 
night. He then buried himself in the sheet, and com- 
mitted himself confidently to the arms of the sleepy 
god; for the musquitoes, after buzzing about for a 
short time, soon discovered the hole in the sheet and 
the supper set apart for them. If they became too 
impetuous and awoke my friend, he made a vigorous 
dash at them with the palm of his hand, and destroyed, 
he said, the whole army, while, on the other hand, if 
they were moderate in their pretensions, they were 
quietly allowed to feed on. 

I recommend rather the removal of the candle to an 
adjoining room or passage to which there is a door 
from your bedroom. These dear little creatures 
always seek the light, I prefer this arrangement even 


to the musquito-net, which make one's bed hot and 

The bite of the scorpion is not worse than a sting 
of a wasp. A bite from a snake, too, even in the 
country, is of rare occurrence. Upon the whole my ex- 
perience of venomous insects and reptiles here is, that 
they will get out of one's way at all times, if they can 
possibly do so, without declaring war. In my shoot- 
ing excursions in Pacora I have come upon whole hosts 
of alligators, each big enough to take me in at a 
mouthful, but I never saw one do anything else than 
make off out of harm's way. Of course, however, 
these monsters would not be pleasant companions to 
bathe with. 

[ 255 ] 


Taxes. — Bank. — NewsiDapers. — Shops and Stores. — Commerce. — Cotton.- 

Panama Hats. 

Panama, as well as Colon, must be considered a free 
port. There are now no custom-lionses on the Isth- 
mus, or supervision of any kind in regard to exports 
and imports. According to the contract with the 
railroad company, it is stipulated that *' passengers, 
money, merchandise, and goods and effects of all 
kinds which may be transported across the Isthmus, to 
go from one ocean to the other by the railroad, shall 
be exempt from taxes, imposts, national, provincial, 
municipal, or of any other description ; but the mer- 
chandise or effects destined for consumption in the in- 
terior of the republic shall pay the duties and imposts 
established or to be estabhshed, when such goods leave 
the warehouses of the company." The principal part 
of the expenses of the State are provided for by a com- 
mercial tax assessed on all traders in the proportion 
estimated to the amount of the business of each ; and 
if such a tax could be properly levied it would, pro- 
bably, be a fair one, but it is dif&cult to find out in such 
a place as Panama what the income derived from the 

* Article 34. 


business of a person is, the more so as it is the object 
of every one to pay the least possible contribution 
towards the tax in question. The system at present 
adopted is for the Legislative Assembly to fix annually 
the sum required for the expenses of the State during 
the year, and the proportion of this sum that the com- 
mercial tax must produce. The tax-payers are then 
called together, and are made to select from their own 
body a committee of assessors. The result of the 
whole proceeding invariably is, that all, from he who 
pays the most to he who pays the least, consider them- 
selves hardly used. A duty recently established is 
also collected, in the same manner, on tobacco and 
spirits imported and sold for local consumption. There 
are other taxes, too, on distilleries, on house property, 
on cattle living and killed ; but none of these are so 
productive or so generally unpopular as the commercial 
tax. It would be difficult, however, to say what tax 
would be popular or cheerfully paid on the Isthmus. 
There is no doubt that the commercial tax has been 
increased and raised, year by year, beyond all reason- 
able limits ; and on this account the foreign consuls at 
Panama have assisted the merchants and traders of 
their respective nations in their endeavours to get 
redress and relief. This tax is levied in sums from 
one to three hundred dollars per month, var3ring accord- 
ing to the estimated trade of the shopkeepers or 

The *' Commercial Bulletin" says, relative to the 
commercial tax for 1865, that " The question is now 

TAXES. 2&1 

plainly reduced to foreign interests versus native in- 
terests. By the chances of election there were four 
native and but one foreign merchant on the Committee 
of Assessment. The result has been : — 


154 establishments are taxed at . . 4916-66§ per month. 
Of these 16 are foreigners, taxed at . 3812-50 „ 

Leaving 93 establishments to pay * . 1104-16^ „ 

Of these sixty-one foreign establishmentSj fifteen of 
them are to pay $2930, sixteen are to pay $635, and 
thirty are to pay $247-50. The consequence is that 
the leading foreign houses charge the committee with 
having favoured the native houses to the prejudice of 
the foreigners, and object to bearing so great a dispro- 
portion of the tax."* 

Except in the matter of this tax, traders at Panama 
are subject to little molestation by the Government 
authorities. This is a marked advancement upon 
former times. In the year 1822, for instance, a law 
was passed enacting that no foreigner should be able 
personally to transact as a merchant his own business ; 
while, should he determine to sell merchandise in the 
country, he was obliged to nominate a consignee, who 
was required to be a citizen of Colombia with an open 
house of business, and who was to be responsible for 
all duties, &c. Eestrictions of this class do not now 
exist, nor are foreigners, except those domiciled in the 
country, subject to forced loans or military service. 

Weights and measures and money, according to the 

* January 13, 1865. 



Colombian law, are based upon the French decimal 
system, but English and Spanish measures are also 
used commonly. All kinds of money are current, and 
pass freely enough at Panama — indeed, only too 
freely. The English sovereign represents five dollars. 
The French five-franc piece one dollar, and fractions in 
proportion ; but there is some difficulty in passing 
bank-notes or paper currency of any kind. Of the 
smaller silver coins there is generally a scarcity, and 
there is as yet no copper currency in circulation, which 
causes much inconvenience to the housekeeper and 
those who have small payments to make — hence papers, 
of which the following is an exact copy, are sometimes 
issued by the small tradesmen, and are commonly 
received by their customers in change for coins of 
greater value : — 

Five Cents' iM^ortli of Bread. 

Some merchants, too, even import cents from the 
United States to enable them to give change, although 
American money commands a premium of from two 
and a half to four per cent, over all other currency. 
Bills of exchange on England at sixty days' sight 
generally now command a premium of from ^ne to 
two per cent. ; on Paris, at ninety days' sight at par, 
and one per cent, discount. 

" Merchants draw upon England and France, and 

BANK. _ 259 

purcliase supplies in the United States, thus increasing 
trade in that direction."* 

A discussion in May, 1864, at the congress at 
Bogota, brought forward some statistical returns 
relative to the actual debt of the United States of 
Colombia, from which it appears that the republic 
now owes altogether 52,500,000 dollars. Of this 
sum the English loans take up the greater part, 
36,400,000 dollars, the interest of which is paid 
from the twenty-five *per cent, of the customs' 
revenues up to the 1st December, 1866 ; after that 
date thirty-seven and a half per cent., and fifty 
per cent, of the income from the Panamd Eailroad. 
The rest of the existing debt, it was calculated, would 
be covered by the produce of the mortmain property .f 

In 1861 a private bank was established in 
Panama under a privilege from the Government, and 
it is still in operation. To give my readers some 
idea of the value of money here, I may quote a few 
of the regulations of this establishment, which do 
not appear extraordinary in comparison with the 
usual transactions of the place, however they may 
appear to the European eye. 

1st. The bank agrees to receive in deposit silver, 
gold, precious stones, &;c., charging a commission of 
one per cent, on the value for the time the deposit 
remains in the bank under one year, after which a 
new commission of one per cent, is charged. 

* Report of United States Consul. 
t Panamd " Star and Herald." 

s 2 


2nd. The bank will discount (good paper under- 
stood) or lend money upon an interest of two per 
cent, per month. 

3rd. The bank will not admit cheques from the 
persons who have accounts open, for less than fifty 
dollars (£10). 

Some of our banking establishments in London 
would, I dare say, like to have an innings at such a 
game as this, but money which is lent out at 
interest in this part of the world generally produces 
from one to one and a-half and two per cent, per 
month, upon the best security that is obtainable. 
This is because the smaller traders have little or no 
capital. A concession appears also to have been 
granted in 1864 to the London Bank of Mexico and 
South America, by the Government of Colombia, 
and sanctioned by Congress, of which the following 
are the heads : — Exclusive right to issue notes 
throughout the union in all Government transactions 
and payment of customs, duties, and taxes, the 
same as money. The bank to have custody of all 
national funds, and the right to establish branches 
throughout all the States of the Union, inclusive of 
Panama, with the above privileges. These privileges 
are conceded for a period of twenty-five years, and 
the bank is to act as the Government financial agent 
in the country, and to be always considered a 
neutral estabhshment. 

There is one newspaper, the " Star and Herald," 
published tri-weekly in Panama, in the English and 


Spanish languages. It usually gives a useful sum- 
mary of the news brought by each steamer to the 
Isthmus. There is also an official gazette or Govern- 
ment paper, and from time to time other periodicals 
are started, but these are generally short-lived, 
and devoted chiefly to local politics. I do not 
think, however, that the natives of the Isthmus 
care very much about the politics of Europe, so 
long as they are well posted up in the to them 
more important movements of Central and South 
America; so, probably, had the "Star and Herald" 
depended only on local support, it would long ere 
this have likewise expired. But this paper is 
also freely circulated on the West Coast and 
South America, and in the neighbouring states 
of Central America, and it has had the merit 
hitherto of being the only newspaper published in 
Spanish America in the English language. It was 
established in the year 1849. 

The first newspaper printed in New Granada, was 
introduced by the viceroy, Eield-Marshal Ezpeleta, 
January 1st, 1791. It was called ''Periodico de 
Santafe de Bogota," and published weekly during 
the whole of his administration. 

As at St. Thomas, almost anything and every- 
thing may be purchased at Panama. All the shops 
are open stores or warehouses, and the largest 
establishments sell as readily by retail as by whole- 

* Restrepo's " Historia de Colombia." 


With one or two exceptions, the principal trade 
in foreign merchandise is carried on by foreigners, 
while there is a general disposition on the part of 
every trader to deal in any article for which there 
is a demand. Thus, one may buy hams and cheeses 
at a ready-made clothing store, or brandy, gin, 
flour, sugar, and rice at a wholesale drapers ; while 
the ship-chandlers announce '"'a large variety of 
dry goods carefully selected for this market." But 
the merchandise sent to this market is not generally 
of a first-rate quality. The United States furnishes 
the greater part of the provisions and a fair share 
of the said '* dry goods," although considerable 
importations are made from England and France, 
particularly of ready-made clothing, wine, perfumery, 
&c., and last, not least, of pale ale and brandy. It 
was hoped by the traders of Panama, that with 
the increased facility for communication, buyers from 
the interior of the republic and Central America 
would come to Panama to make all their purchases, 
but it has been found that a great many of these 
buyers, when they get thus far, go on to Europe or 
the United States and spend their money there. 
^' Although free from duties, all these imported articles 
generally maintain a market price of nearly double 
their original cost, owing to the high railway and 
steam-ship freight, the expensiveness of house and 
store rent, and the destructive nature of the climate."* 

* Commercial Keport of Her Majesty's Consul. Presented to Parlia- 
ment, 1863. 


The opening of tlie railway from one ocean to the 
other, in 1855, had the effect, in the first instance, 
of paralysing the trade of Panama, for the railroad 
company having obtained, amongst other important 
privileges, the fee-simple of the island of Manzanilla, 
on which the new city of Colon is built, their chief 
agency was formed there; thus the passengers from 
California never remained any time at Panama, but 
were, as they now are, hurried off to Colon. The 
considerable expenditure, therefore, made by the 
passengers formerly in this city ceased, and many 
houses of business were in consequence obliged to 
close in 1855 and 1856.* 

These were chiefly houses engaged in the forward- 
ing business. On the opening of the railway this 
business became no longer necessary. The railway 
company received direct consignment of the goods 
intended to be transmitted across the line, and the 
intervention of a third party on the Isthmus, as in 
the time of the conveyance by mules, was no longer 
necessary. Many hotels, too, which were solely 
supported by the passengers at Panama, were obliged 
to close when it was found that the passengers 
remained only either at Colon or on board their 
ship. The hotels are now chiefly supported by the 
passengers to and from Europe, whose detention 
at Panama is generally longer than with those from 
New York or California. 

♦ Commercial Report of Her Majesty's Consul for 1855. Presented to 
Parliament, July 29, 1856. 


Panama having originally been, as before shown, 
the chief depot where the valuable productions of the 
Pacific coast of the former Spanish colonies of South 
America were collected for the purpose of being trans- 
ported across the Isthmus to the Atlantic, the greater 
part of the population of the town were educated 
and employed in the carrying trade, consequently agri- 
cultural pursuits were almost neglected, with the 
exception of the rearing of cattle and the growth of 
such produce and vegetables as were actually neces- 
sary for the immediate requirements of the inhabi- 

The lands of the Isthmus, although well adapted 
to the growth of corn, sugar-cane, rice, grazing, &c., 
are still almost wholly neglected, the natives only 
cultivating enough to afford home supplies. Small 
quantities of coffee and cotton are produced. Landed 
proprietors turn their attention mainly to cattle- 
breeding, which yields them a clear profit of at 
least fifteen per cent, per annum.* 

The value of cattle has considerably increased with 
the increased demand of late years. Thirty or forty 
years ago cattle on the estates was valued at from 
seven to twelve dollars each animal ; the estimated 
value is now twenty dollars. Cattle for the market 
has increased, too, in like proportion in value, the 
price being now from thirty to thirty-five dollars 
each animal, or ten cents (five pence) per pound 
gross weight ; choice meat is even retailed at twenty 

* Keports of British and American Consuls, for 1862 and 1863. 


cents per pound (ten-pence). No sheep are reared 
on the Isthmus. Goats are sometimes killed as a 
substitute for them, but they are a very poor 
substitute for "real south-down." Pigs are bred 
in large numbers, and form an important staple of 
commerce ; indeed, it can hardly ever be said that 
there is " quiet in the pig market " at Panama. 

Sugar growing is profitable, but it requires a 
great outlay, and is dependent on the uncertain 
supply of labour. An enterprising American, of 
German birth^ has recently opened a large sugar 
plantation in the district of Chepo (near the city), 
and has erected American machinery for manufac- 
turing sugar, molasses, rum, and cocoa-nut oil.* 

No mining operations of importance exist, and 
the small quantities of gold that are now found in 
the vicinity of Panama leave no profit above the 
labour attending the search. The natives still ob- 
tain small quantities of gold in the tributaries of 
the river Chagres, the men being able to wash out 
at certain periods gold to the value of six to twelve 
shillings daily. 

The import trade of Panama for consumption on the 
Isthmus is now estimated at about 70,000^., and con- 
sists principally of Enghsh and German cotton and 
woollen goods and hardware ; lumber, ice, and pre- 
served provisions from the United States ; flour from 
the United States and Chili; and rice, coffee, and 
sugar from Central America. 

* Report of Amciican Consul, 1863. 


The export trade of Panama comprises, according to 
an approximate estimate : — 


5,000 hides, valued at . . . . 1,500 

Pearls 25,000 

Pearl shells 10,000 

Caoutchouc (indiarubber) 4,000 quintals 14,400 

Vegetable ivory 1,100 

Cattle, fruits, vegetables, &c., principally 

supplied to shipping .... 8,000 


Besides this sum, produce to the amount of at least 
20,000?. is consumed on the establishments of the 
various steam-ship companies at Colon and Panama, 
and, which though not actually exported, is paid for 
in money drawn from abroad.* 

In addition to the above, tortoise-shell, balsams, 
gums, and vanilla, are also produced and exported in 
small quantities. A great part of the value of the 
imports is paid for in specie remittances, and by bills 
on Europe, which the various men-of-war and steam- 
packet companies sell from time to time, to meet their 
current expenses. The exportation of indiarubber is 
a new feature in the trade of Panama. It is produced 
in considerable quantity in the province of Darien and 
other parts of the Isthmus, and brought to Panama 
for sale. About 1000 quintals were exported in 1862, 
but four times that quantity in 1863. The average 
value of this article in Panama is about 18 dollars the 

* Reports of Her Majesty's Consul for 1863. Presented to Parlia- 
ment, 1864. 

COTTON. 267- 

quintal, or 9d. per lb. In order to obtain the india- 
rubber, the trees from which it is produced have 
hitherto been cut down, and it is feared that unless 
this destructive manner of obtaining this important 
article of commerce is remedied, the indiarubber of 
the Isthmus will, ere many years, be exhausted. 

In the years 1862 and 1863 the cultivation of cotton 
was commenced on the Isthmus, and, it appears, with 
very fair success. In the interior of the State about 
700 acres were then planted with cotton, and, in 1864, 
the cultivation prevailed more or less over the country 
generally. Some Sea Island seed has been remark- 
ably productive ; cotton having been collected three 
times at intervals of three months. The plant, which 
in the United States is an annual, appears in Panama 
to be a perennial, since that which was sown thirteen 
months ago was still in a flourishing condition. This 
may be partially explained by the absence of frost. 
The American Consul who planted some upland seed, 
was enabled in three months to send a sample of cotton 
to his Government, which was favourably reported on, 
and a farther quantity of seed was sent for gratuitous 
distribution. The authorities of the United States 
evince the utmost desire to promote the growth of 
cotton on the Isthmus ; natives, as well as foreigners, 
being anxious to obtain seed ; and it is estimated that 
about 3000 acres would be placed under cotton on the 
Pacific side of the Isthmus by the end of the follow- 
ing year. The cultivation is quite in its infancy ; the 
great difficulty is the want of labour, and it is not 


probable that there will be any exports of importance 
at present. 

The following letter from the department of agri- 
culture at Washington to the United States Consul at 
Panama, shows the opinion which has been formed of 
Isthmus-grown cotton in America, and manifests the 
desire of the authorities of the United States to pro- 
mote the cultivation of cotton on the Isthmus : — 

« Washington, D.C., May 27, 1863. 

*' Sir, — I have the honour to inform you, that your 
letter dated the 27th ult., addressed to the Depart- 
ment of State, has been referred to this Department, 
together with the specimen of tree cotton, and also a 
sample of cotton grown from seed sent to you by the 
late Agricultural Division of the Patent Office. 

" I beg to say in reply, that the sample of cotton is 
beautiful in my opinion, the staple compares favour- 
ably with the best upland Alabama. The result of 
your experiment is so marked and successful, that I 
have deemed it important, and worthy of the con- 
sideration of this country, that you should have the 
aid of this department as it can be consistently 
afforded to extend and perfect your experiments in the 
growth of that important staple. 

" This department concluded to donate at once one 
hundred bushels of the best North Carolina seed, to be 
distributed free, under your control ; and in order to 

COTTON. 269 

enable you to make the distribution free, I have suc- 
ceeded in inducing the President of the Panama E ail- 
road Company to transport the seed from Washington 
to Panama free of all charges. This Mr. Hoadley 
finally agreed to do, in order to encourage and induce 
an extensive growth of cotton on the Isthmus, which, 
of course, will benefit that company. 

" With reference to the specimen of tree cotton, I 
beg to say, that the staple is too short and brittle for 
any practical use. 

" It will give this department pleasure to hear from 
you at any time on matters of this kind, and I shall 
be glad to receive a sample of the cotton from this 
seed, say two pounds, which may be sent direct to the 
Department of Agriculture. 

" I am very respectfully 

Your obedient servant, 
*' Isaac Newton, Commissioner. 

" Alex. McKee, Esq., U. S. Consul, 
Panama, New Granada." 

"N.B. — I enclose a copy of the letter from Mr. 
Hoadley with reference to the free transportation of 
the seed." 

" Office of the Panamd Eailroad Company, 
" New York, May 21, 1863. 

" Sir, — On reflection, since writing you on the 18th 
inst., I have come to the conclusion that this company 
can consistently pay the expense of transportation of 
cotton seed from Washington to New York, destined 
for gratuitous distribution on the Isthmus of Panama. 


If, therefore, your department will forward to the 
address of Joseph F. Joy, Secretary of the Company 
here, such quantity of cotton-seed as you may con- 
sider it expedient to send to the Isthmus, the freight 
of the same will be paid here ; and it will also be 
forwarded to its destination at the expense of the 

" I am, Sir, respectfully 

" Your obedient servant, 

" David Hoadley, President. 

" Hon. Isaac Newton, Commissioner, 
" Department of Agriculture, Washington." 

The Panama newspaper, in a recent article on the 
subject, says, apparently with much reason, "That if it 
will pay to go far off (as at the Navigator Islands) 
and buy land at from 10^. to 161. the acre, surely in a 
country abounding in fair lands such as the Isthmus, 
and within a few weeks of the best market, the specu- 
lation could scarcely fail to be a profitable one." . . . 

" In most of the provinces of this State, not only a 
variety of soils may be selected and tried; but also 
different localities with mean temperature varying 
from 80 degrees at the coast, to 50 degrees in the 
region of the Cordilleras. In the province of Chiriqui 
the plains ascend gradually from the coast, until lost 
in the ranges of the Cordilleras, which are there about 
20 miles distant. At an elevation of 500 feet or 
less we find the oak, the bramble, and the potato, 
when tried, did well. The people, unless they have 
lost the industrious habits with which we knew them. 

COTTON. 271 

would not only furnish labour, but could be easily in- 
duced to plant cotton, if any leading man only showed 
them the example." * 

But with all these advantages, the people of the 
Isthmus do not appear yet to have become thoroughly 
awake to the advantages of cotton growing, for an- 
other article in the same periodical, after citing the 
numerous countries now producing cotton, says : — 

"In the midst of this great uprising of people, 
shall it be said that the Isthmus of Panama has done 
nothing? With the finest of plains for the cultiva- 
tion of cotton and an existing railroad for its exporta- 
tion, why wait for the foreigner to show us the way, 
by first putting his hand to the plough ? How long 
shall we continue to smoke the pipe of idleness, de- 
pendent only on a few hundreds of cattle, which 
neither yield milk nor cheese, roving wild over the 
plains and returning only some fourteen calves per 
100 head, clear of expenses ? The people of Veraguas, 
it is said, are up and stirring ; but we hear nothing 
from the fine province of Chiriqui, except it be poli- 
tical animosities and private revenge. Perhaps of all 
the departments of the State, there is none more 
adapted to cotton cultivation than that of Chiriqui. 
Towards the shores of the Golfo of Dulce are some of 
the finest lands. Throughout the forests we find 
abundance of chocolate trees and cotton plants left to 
grow wild ! especially in the vicinity of Punta Burica. 
The monkeys at present enjoy the fruit of the one, and 

* Panama ** Star and Herald." 


the birds line their nests with the fibres of the 

''Throughout the whole territory of the state of 
the Isthmus, from the borders of Costa Eica to the 
Gulf of Darien the possession of cattle seems to be 
the chief aim and ambition of the inhabitants. As we 
have already said, this species of industry is very little 
conducive either to individual wealth or general pros- 
perity. Very few have 500 head of cattle, whereas in 
the culture of cotton all might partake. At present 
from the ports of the Isthmus there is not commerce 
enough to maintain even a small steamer ; with abun- 
dance of cotton to export, everybody would be bene- 
fited. It is to be hoped that the President and 
Assembly of the State wiU use their respective influ- 
ence towards this. Some of the prefects, we are told, 
have obliged the people to go to mass. Why could 
they not also oblige them to plant cotton? What- 
ever may be said about liberty, certain it is that the 
present prosperity of Costa Eica dates from the time 
when the supreme authority requested every good 
citizen to plant coffee."* 

But what about Panama hats ? asks my reader, 
for every one who has heard anything of Panama 
has probably heard of the far-famed Panama straw 
hats. And who has not remarked, on the Boule- 
vards at Paris, the shop filled with these hats, and 
with characteristic exactness dedicated in the old 
Parisian style, "aux docks de Panama?" Alas, for 

* Panama " Star and Herald." 


the illusions of commerce! There are really no 
Panama hats, as there are no docks at Panama. The 
hats in question are so called in the same way, but 
hardly with the same right that the hats made in 
Tuscany are called Leghorn liats. The Panama hats 
are made chiefly in the neighbouring republics of 
Ecuador and Peru, though some are manufactured in 
the interior of !N'ew Granada, but all are merely 
shipped from Panama. Madame Ida Pfeiffer sa^^s, 
" Both sexes (in Panama) wear little round straw 
hats which they know how to plait, but these do not 
look well on the women, as they are too small, and 
scarcely serve to cover the thick plaits of their hair." 
Here the traveller was mistaken. The hats worn at 
Panama are the hats above described ; but none are 
made there but those of coarse straw worn by men 
only. I have seen another published account which 
states that "The province of Panama produces much 
more than Peru. It is supposed that not less than sixty 
or eighty thousand hats are annually exported from 
the province of Panama. If the average price of a hat 
is reckoned at two piastres, these exportations will 
represent a value of about 200,000 dollars." I dare 
say the natives of the Isthmus heartily wish, this was 
the case. The account I have quoted goes on to say, 
however, with more correctness, " The plaiting of 
these hats occupies the whole of the Indian colony of 
Moyobamba, on the banks of the Amazon, to the 
north of Lower Peru. In this village men and 
women, children and old men are equally busy. The 


inhabitants are all seen seated before the cottages 
plaiting hats, and smoking cigarettes. The straw is 
plaited on a thick piece of wood, which the workman 
holds between his knees. The centre is begun first, 
and the work continued onward to the rim. The 
time most favourable for this kind of work is the 
morning of rainy days, when the atmosphere is satu- 
rated with moisture. At noon, or when the weather 
is clear and dry, the straw is dry ; the straw is apt to 
break, and these breakings appear in the form of knots 
when the work is done. The leaves of the bombonaxa, 
to be fit to be used, are gathered before their complete 
development. They are steeped in hot water until 
they become white. When this operation is termi- 
nated, each plant is separately dried in a chamber 
where a high temperature is kept up. The bombonaxa 
is then bleached for two or three days. The straw 
thas prepared is despatched to all the places where the 
inhabitants occupy themselves with plaiting hats ; and 
the Indians of Peru employ the straw not only for hats, 
but also in making those delicious little cigar-cases." 

These hats are very durable, and when washed 
with care look almost as well after a year's wear as 
when new. These are, however, heavy, which, I think, 
makes them to some extent unsuitable for a hot 
climate. They are also very expensive; a good one 
costs from 20 dollars to 40 dollars (4/. to 8/.), and it 
costs a dollar (45.) every time it is cleaned. They 
are much worn by South Americans and West Indians, 
and no native girl of the lower classes considers her- 


self properly dressed to go out of the house without 
one. The hats worn by these classes cost from 2 to 
10 dollars each. 

The author of " Three Years in Chili," correctly 
says : " Guayaquil is the great depot for Panama 
hats, 800,000 dollars worth being sold annually. The 
grass of which they are made is found chiefly in the 
neighbouring province of San Cristoval. They can be 
braided only in the night or early in the morning, as 
the heat in the day time renders the grass brittle. It 
takes a native about three months to braid one of the 
finest quality, and I saw some hats which looked like 
fine linen, and are valued at fifty dollars a piece even 

The above estimate is, however, much too large. 
The value of the hats exported from Guayaquil in 
1853 did not amount to 200,000 dollars. In 1862, 
it was about 220,000, while in 1861 it was under 
150,000 doUars — calculating the dollar as four 

T 2 



The Transit Trade — Steam Ships. 

The great business of the Isthmus is of course the 
transit trade, now again as it was in days gone by. 
To perceive this, we have only to examine the statistics 
of the railroad company. Each year's statement shows 
an increase in the several classes of merchandise con- 
veyed across the Isthmus ; and there is no doubt that 
the transit business by this route is steadily developing. 
Large quantities of wool and cotton are now sent by 
way of the Isthmus from Peru and Central America, 
and almost every description of merchandise which 
was formerly sent to and from Europe, the West Coast 
of South America, and Central America, via Cape 
Horn, is now forwarded by way of Panama, including 
even copper ore from Bolivia and Chili. As I have 
said, a glance at the accompanying figures will be 
sufficient to show how this trade has increased, and is 
steadily increasing month by month and year by year, 
and yet it may be said to be in its infancy. A further 
great and important increase may be speedily looked 
for by means of the new line to New Zealand, when 
that line shall come into operation. 


Tke transit trade consists of all kinds of manufac- 
tured goods from Europe and tlie United States, for 
the South Pacific, Central America, the "West Coast of 
Mexico, California, and British Columbia ; and of gold 
and silver from those places, and cotton, wool, alpaca, 
copper, barilla, caoutchouc, orchilla, hides, sarsaparilla, 
bark, indigo, cocoa, sugar _, coffee, and straw hats, from 
the South Pacific and Central America, exported to 
Europe and the United States. 

The estimated value of all imports at Panama, in 
1863, was £11,706,495 ; that of exports, £4,988,553 ; 
making a total of £16,695,048. The value of imports 
at Colon during that year, though not ascertained with 
any degree of precision, may be fairly estimated at the 
amount of exports from Panama, with the addition of 
£60,000 for imports at Colon for consumption on the 

The exports at Colon would, on the other hand, be 
equivalent to the imports at Panama, less £10,000 the 
value of imports at Panama for consumption, and with 
the addition of £60,000, the estimated value of Isthmus 
produce exported to Europe and the United States. 

The imports at Colon, in 1863, would thus be 
£5,048,553; and the exports, £11,756,495; making 
a total of £16,805,048. According to these estimates 
the trade proper of Panama, in 1863, was : 

Imports at Colon and Panama .... £70,000 

Exports at Colon 60,000 

Total value of Panama trade £130,000 


And the transit trade, during the said period, was : 

Imported at Panama, and exported at Colon . . £11,696,495 
Imported at Colon, and exported at Panama . . 4,978,553 

Total valne of transit trade £16,075,048* 

During the four years ending December 31, 1855, 
121,820 passengers were transported over the railroad. 
The amount of specie conveyed over the road during 
the same period was over 200,000,000 of dollars^ or 
£40,000,000. The exact amount being : 

^ c 

Of gold 171,157,421 25 

Of silver 29,403,793 49 

$200,561,214 74 

consigned as follows : 

^ c. 

To the United States 135,135,093 87 

To England 65,426,120 87 

The following statement shows the quantity of 
British merchandise which arrived at Aspinwall from 
England direct, and passed over the road during the 
first three years after it was opened : — 

Weight (lbs.) Cubic feet. 

1855 423,669 35,151 

1856 693,999 87,337 

1857 3,160,156 95,338t 

In the year 1858 the following quantities of mer- 
chandise were conveyed across the Isthmus, viz. : — 

Measurement. Weight. 

Cubic feet. Pounds. 

533,639 38,570,410 

* Commercial Eeport of Her Majesty's Consul for 1863. Presented to 
Parliament, 1864. 

f Private letter, afterwards published, from President of the Kailroad 
Company to one of the Directors. 



and — 

American mails . . . 798,776 
English ditto . . . 43,940* 

In 1859 there were 46,976 passengers, and the un- 
dermentioned specie and merchandise : — 

^ c 

Gold 48,382,476 95 

Silver .... 12,439,108 14 

,821,585 9 

Of which the following proportions were sent to Eng- 
land : — 

I c. 
From Mexico— Gold . . 232,171 49 

Silver . . 4,139,686 19 

4,371,857 68 

From California— Gold .... 4,257,683 98 

From South America— Gold . 535,701 29 
Silver 7,145,964 70 

. 7,681,665 99 

From Panama— Gold . . 477,345 58 
Silver . . 67,959 92 

545,305 50 

Making a total of $16,856,513 15 

The remainder^ namely, 45^365^071 dollars 94 c.^ having 
been forwarded in this year to the United States. 

The quantity of merchandise transported over the 
road in this year was as follows : — 

Weight (Tons). Measurement (Tons). 

20,627 12,728 

and — 

Mails — British ... 23 tons weight. 
„ American . . 422 „ f 

* Commercial Report of the Writer, as Acting-Consul for 1858. Pre- 
sented to Parliament, 1861. 

t Ibid, for 1859. Presented to Parliament, 1862. 



In 1860 there were 31,357 passengers, being a de- 
crease in number of a little more than 15,500 as 
compared with the previous year ; but the average for 
each of the five years from 1855 to 1859 only shows 
an excess of 2,500 passengers over this year. 

In treasure there was likewise a decrease of upwards 
of 10,000,000 dollars, as shown by the following 
figures : — 

Gold and pearls 
Silver . 
Jewellery, &c. 





On the other hand, there was an increase of twelve 
per cent, in the quantity of merchandise crossing the 
Isthmus, in 1860, as compared with the previous years. 
The following were the quantities and description of 
merchandise conveyed during the year. 

* Express goods, cubic ft 



* Measurement ditto . 


* Weight ditto . 


Mails, pounds weight 




Coal „ 


Lumber, feet 


Gunpowder, barrels 


Furniture, cubic feet 


Hides, number . 


Pearl shells, pounds weight 


Tee „ 


Quicksilver, flasks 


Silver ore, pounds 


Copper, bars 


* For particular description, see the " Kailway Company's Tariff,' 
Appendix, page 389. 



Metal and amalgam, bars . . 750,531 

Whale oil, gallons . . . 820* 

or gross quantity about 48,000 tons. 

In 1861 the number of passengers conveyed across 
the Isthmus was 30,969. The amount of treasure 
during the same year was as follows : 

Gold and pearls . . . $39,310,125 

Silver 14,250,832 

Jewellery, chiefly from Europe . 458,907 


The following statement shows the quantity of mer- 
chandise^ &c., transported across the Isthmus during 
this year : — 

Baggage, lbs. 



Coal „ . 


Miscellaneous, lbs. 


Ditto, feet 


fExpress goods, feet 


fist Class freight, feet 


t2Dd „ 

. 2,221,261 

t3rd „ 





. 5,539,570 

teth „ 


In 1862 the number of passengers was 26^420^ and 
the amount of treasure conveyed across the Isthmus 
was as follows : — 

Gold and pearls 
Jewellery . 

^ c 

40,196,473 87 

14,687,131 62 

573,239 44 

$55,456,844 93 

* Report of Her Majesty's Consul for 1860. Presented to Parliament, 

t For particular description, see " Railway Company's Tariff," page 389. 

t Report of Her Majesty's Consul for 1861. Presented to Parliament, 


Of this amount the sum of $5,024,499 20c. was re- 
mitted from Europe in jewellery and specie, and the 
remainder was sent to Europe and the United States, 
in the following proportions : — 

* c. 

To Europe 23,740,733 42 

To New York 26,691,611 49 

The remittances to England were from the under- 
mentioned sources : — 

From Panama and Pacific ports of f c. 

New Granada .... 290,837 

Pearls from Panama .... 64,616 

From South Pacific, including Chili, 

Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador . . 7,177,975 

From North Pacific, including British 

Columbia, California, and Mexican 

Coast 16,201,305 42 

$23,740,733 42 

This falling off of the remittances to the United 
States was one of the immediate consequences of the 
war. It was owing to the want of security felt by 
merchants and shippers for property on board Ameri- 
can vessels ; and so American as well as English 
merchants sent their remittances by the British 
steamers to England. 

The following statement shows the quantity and 
description of merchandise^ &c., transported across the 
Isthmus in the year 1862 : — 

American mails, lbs 412,522 

English „„.... 46,023 

Extra baggage „ . . . . 672,775 

Carried forward . . 1,131,320 




Brought forward, lbs. . 


* Express freight, 

cubic feet 


*lst Class „ 



*2nd „ „ 

lbs. . 


*3rd „ „ 



*4tli „ „ 

» • 


*5th „ „ 


. 6,025,314 

*6th „ „ 



*Special, lbs. . 



*Ditto, feet . 




Coals, lbs. . 



Or gross quantity of merchandise, 58,734 tons.f 

In 1863 the number of passengers was 32,273, and 
the amount of treasure transported was as follows : — 

Gold $36,611,295 

Silver 18,653,239 

Jewellery 496,495 

Treasury Notes 1,050,000 


Of the amount of treasure about 5,000,000 dollars 
were exported from England to Peru, being the amount 
of a loan made to that country in 1863; and nearly 
500,000 dollars represent the value of jewellery ex- 
ported from Europe to the Pacific. The remaining 
51,000^000 dollars were sent from Pacific ports to 
Europe and the United States. 

Of this latter sum^ the following amounts were sent 
to England in this year : 

* For particulars of the various descriptions of articles referred to in 
the several classes, &c., it will be necessary to refer to Company's Tariff, 
page 389. 

t Report of the Writer, as Acting-Consul, for 1862. Presented to Par- 
liament, 1864. 



From CaUfornia and Mexico . . . $33,000,000 

From South Pacific ports . . . 8,340,000 

From Panama and Buenaventura . . 600,000 

From Central America .... 300,000 

£8,448,000 = 42,240,000* 

It may be again observed, in the statement for this 
year, how the larger proportion of the treasure found 
its way to Europe instead of the United States, as had 
been the case previously to the war. 

The following is the statement of the merchandise 
conveyed across the Isthmus during the year 1863 : — 

American mails, lbs. . 




Baggage . 


Express freight, feet . 


1st Class freight „ . 


2nd „ „ lbs. . 


3rd „ „ „ . 

. 6,777,102 

4th „ „ „ 

. 28,827,131 

5th „ „ „ 


6th „ „ „ 


Special „ „ 


„ „ feet 


Coals, lbs. 


Or freight — 

In lbs 70,886,612 

„ feet . 




The foregoing statements of the Panama Eailroad 
traffic comprise the whole of the two branches of the 
trade — the trade proper of the Isthmus and the transit 

* Report of Her Majesty's Consul for 1863. Presented to Parliament, 


trade — with the sole exception of a small amount of 
imports at Colon and Panama for consumption on the 
spot, and of a small amount of produce collected at 
and exported from Colon, and which do not pass over 
the railroad.* 

Although the railway statistics have shown a de- 
crease in the passenger traffic from time to time with 
the falling-off of emigration to California, the carriage 
of merchandise to all the ports in the Pacific has 
steadily increased, and when the present high rates 
of freight are reduced, will entirely supersede the trade 
round Cape Horn, and will not probably be affected 
in the transit of merchandise by any new route which 
may be established across Central America, over which 
it must possess many advantages.! 

Prom all the statistics which have been published 
relative to the Panama Eailroad, it appears that the 
traffic in cargo has doubled itself every three and a half 
years, or nearly so. In 1860 about 48,000 tons of 
merchandise were carried over the Isthmus, while in 
1863 the quantity was nearly 100,000 tons. But it 
does not appear that the passenger branch of the trade 
has as yet increased in anything like a similar propor- 
tion. This is owing, in addition to the falling-off of 
the emigration to California, to the occasional opposi- 
tion of the Nicaragua route, by which the California 
passengers are from time to time conveyed at much 

* Report of Her Majesty's Consul for 1863. Presented to Parliament, 

t Ibid, for 1861. Presented to Parliament, 1863. 


lower rates than by the Panama route in the absence 
of opposition. 

It would seem, however, tliat the increase in the 
cargo branch has not been attended with comparative 
increase in the profits of the company. In the report 
of the superintendent engineer for 1855, the earnings 
calculated on 35,000 tons of merchandise carried in 
that year were $1,815,000 or $33, per ton, while those 
produced in 1862 on 58,734 tons were only $921,432— 
that is to say, $15 68c., per ton, showing a decrease in 
seven years of more than 52 per cent, in the value of 
this branch of the business. 

From the year 1856 to 1862, the increase in the 
traffic was 260 per cent., and the increase in the ex- 
penses 38 per cent., but owing to the reduced rates at 
which the cargo had ultimately been conveyed, the 
increase in the profits were only about 24 per cent. 
These were natural consequences of the undertaking. 
When the railroad was first opened, only merchandise, 
and articles of great value upon which a high rate of 
freight could be paid, were forwarded by the Isthmus 
route ; but in later years it was found necessary to stimu- 
late the general traffic by conveying cargo at more mode- 
rate charges, and each year, as has been shown, inferior 
classes of cargo have been forwarded in increased 
quantities by this route. It has been estimated that 
in cotton from Central America alone, almost a new 
article of export, 15,000 tons would be conveyed across 
the Isthmus during the year 1865. This, of course, is 
one of the articles upon which a low rate of freight only 


can be paid, and which will tend to increase the gross 
amount of cargo carried, but which also tend to re- 
duce the rate per ton on the gross quantity conveyed. 
Having seen the number of passengers and quantity 
of treasure and merchandise which are now yearly con- 
veyed across the Isthmus, we may inquire how these 
passengers, this treasure and merchandise, are brought 
to the Isthmus and taken away from it. We can some 
of us remember the time when the Isthmus was visited 
only by an occasional Government schooner with the 
monthly mail from Jamaica. Those who do so remem- 
ber it, hardly imagined that they would see in a few 
short years more arrivals and departures of steamers at 
the Isthmus than there are days in the month. The 
arrivals are now as follows : — 

British . From Southampton and the West Indies . . 2* 

,, „ Liverpool and the West Indies . . . 2* 

„ „ Grey Town 1* 

„ „ Carthagena and Santa Marta . ' . .1* 

American ,, New York 4* 

British „ South Pacific and ISTew Granadian Ports . 4t 

American „ West Coast of Mexico and Cahfornia . 4f 

„ „ Central American Ports . . . • 2f J 

There are corresponding departures to the above- 
named places, making now no less than forty arrivals 
and departures monthly ; and ere long it is probable 
that there will be a line of British steamers between 

* At Colon. t At Panama. 

X The steamers of the " Compagnie Gene'rale Transatlantique " will 
commence regular monthly voyages to Colon from St. Nazaire about 
July, 1865, when the Pacific Steam Navigation Company will place an 
additional corresponding steamer a month on the line to and from Panama 
and the South Pacific ports. 


New Zealand and Panama in addition to the above. To 
see how rapidly this important branch of trade has 
increased in this direction, it is only necessary to re- 
member that in 1840, and for some years after, there 
was, only one steamer a month touching regularly at 
the Isthmus of Panama. 

In a former page I have alluded to the European 
letters and papers which find their way in such vast 
numbers to the Isthmus. Panama is indeed in this 
particular the great centre of South American civiliza- 
tion — a very St. Martin's -le-Grand. All the correspon- 
dence for the whole coast of South America is dis- 
tributed and despatched by Her Majesty's Consul 
at Panama, who, with a large staff of clerks' passes 
many a hot night in sorting and stamping letters which 
twenty days previously had been likewise sorted and 
stamped at the General Post Office in London. Well 
may the home officials leave the multitudinous geo- 
graphical problems to be dealt with by the more prac- 
tised hand of the official abroad. It is no easy task to 
know how to dispose of a letter addressed " Senor Don 
Juan Smith, Lambayaque, Chile, near Lima, Central 
America ; " or, '^ Captain John Thomas, Ship ' Mary 
Jane,' in care of the Consul^ Chinchey Islands, Central 
America." I have seen dozens of such addresses. One 
of the most refreshing sights to a European stationed 
at Panama is, I think, the sight of the long row of 
mule-carts bearing towards the English consulate their 
goodly loads of British mail-bags. 

[ 289 ] 


The Islands. 

If I were a botanist I should delight in giving my 
readers an account of all the interesting orchids and 
pretty wild plants and flowers of the Isthmus. I have 
often wondered that we have not ere this been favoured 
with some scientific description of them all. But alas, 
I must leave these charming scenes in more able hands, 
with only a few words in correction of a popular error 
respecting the far-famed flower called the ''Espiritu 
Santo," which all visitors to the Isthmus hear of, and 
make it a duty to see. It appears that this curious 
orchid has now reached the gardens of Prince Demidoff 
at Florence, and^ having migrated to a new home so 
grand, it has naturally done so with an additional 
reputation^ if we may judge from a paragraph which 
lately appeared in one of the London newspapers in 
thiswise : — " Have any of your readers seen that most 
wonderful flower from Panama, called the Holy Ghost? 
We had our curiosity gratified the other day by seeing 
a very fine specimen of it in the greenhouses of Prince 



Demidoff, at San Donate, near Florence. It is impos- 
sible to imagine anything more perfect, in the form of 
a pure white dove resting on the inside of the outer 
leaves of the flower. It is a curious fact that no other 
flower is allowed to be placed on the altars of the 
churches of Panama." Whatever veneration may have 
been bestowed on this pretty little flower by the 
early Spaniards, or by the " still more superstitious 
Indian," to whom Dr. Otis_, in his book^ alludes, we 
must at least relieve the present inhabitants of Panama 
of the charge of superstition above referred to. The 
flower certainly meets with no particular attention from 
the natives of the Isthmus, and far from its being 
selected^ to the exclusion of other flowers^ for the deco- 
ration of the altars of the churches, it is scarcely, if 
ever, used for that purpose, although flowers are much 
employed in the churches at Panama, as in most Catho- 
lic churches. Several of the flowers of the Isthmus 
are indeed very beautiful, among others the " Galan de 
Noche," one of the cactus tribe,' Vhich gives forth its 
noble flowers at night only. It is grown at Panama 
in great perfection. 

With much care and attention, plants common in 
temperate climates, such as roses, pinks, &c., may be 
cultivated ; but there is a great enemy to gardening in 
the ant, who is incessant in her attacks upon all choice 
plants ; and, owing to the scarcity of water in the dry 
season, horticultural pursuits are attended with unusual 
vexations — indeed it is with difficulty that one can 
grow enough parsley and lettuces for one's own table ; 


SO that, with the exception of a few plants on the 
balconies of the houses, gardening is a pursuit un- 
practised at Panama. 

The islands in the Bay of Panama are very 
pretty, and form together a picturesque group. Those 
nearest the town' are called Perico, Flamenco, and 
Isnao, and are situated about two and a half miles 
north- west of the city. They are now owned by the 
Panama Eaiboad and Pacific Mail Steamship Com- 
panies. They are but slightly cultivated, but are 
used as depots for coals, stores, and provisions ; and 
on these islands have been buried many American 
officers of the men-of-war and steamship companies 
who have died at Panama. Flamenco is the largest 
of the three. " Perico and Flamenco, with the out- 
lying rock of San Jose, are the group forming the 
south side of Panama Eoad. Isnao and Culebra, the 
western and southern parts of Perico, are connected 
with it by an isthmus of beach and rocks, but at high 
water these present the appearance of three islands. 
Perico is the head-quarters of the United States mail- 
steamers, the bay on the north side forming a con- 
venient anchorage, while on the isthmus, which is 
sandy on that side, steamers of 2,500 tons have been 
easily beached. Under the lee of the islands vessels 
of large burden may lie in perfect safety, and this is, 
indeed, the usual anchorage of the men-of-war and 
large American steamers. There is no anchorage in 
the Bay of Panama nearer than a mile from the town, 
but even so near it is not very safe, owing to the great 

u 2 


rise and fall of tide, which is from twenty to twenty- 
seven feet."* 

*^It is high water, full and change, at Panama 
at 3h. 23m. The springs range from eighteen to 
twenty -two feet, and the neaps from six to ten 
feet. The ebb sets south from one to one and a 
half miles an hour, and is stronger than flood, which 
runs to the north-west. A long swell, which occa- 
sionally sets into the road, always ceases with the 
flowing tides/'t 

The bay is usually tranquil, and undisturbed by 
much wind or sea, but tempests from time to time 
occur during the rainy season, with strong winds and 
a heavy sea swell. The "South American Pilot," 
published under the authority of the British Ad- 
miralty, says, "Panama Eoad may be considered 
secure, the ground being muddy holds well." 

'' A sailor^ resident in Panama for five years, remarks 
that during that time there was no known case of a 
vessel being driven from her anchor ; and with good 
ground - tackle, and common precaution, a vessel 
might lie there all the year round with one anchor 
down. Attention to the tides and soundings of the 
roadstead will enable a vessel to lie close in at times 
for the discharge of cargo."! 

Another writer on the subject says, '' The Bay of 
Panama presents advantages for a naval station supe- 
rior to any that can be found in any other port of 

* (( 

South American Pilot." f Ibid. 

X Quotation from " Nautical Magazine " for 1856. 



the Pacific. For safety and commodiousness the bay- 
is unsurpassed. If I mistake not, I am sustained 
in my opinion of the suitableness of Panama for a 
naval depot by the united testimony of all the 
officers of om' navy who have been stationed at that 

But even on this subject, and where it appears 
there are conflicting interests, sailors, like doctors, 
differ. Captain Pim says, "The Bay of Panama 
cannot by any perversion of the term be called a 
port, it is simply an open roadstead, and at certain 
times not particularly safe.'* He goes on to say, 
" The steamers are obliged to anchor some miles from 
the shore, and passengers, goods^ and supplies have to 
be transhipped in a small steamer and lighters ; and 
this can only be done at certain times of the tide, for 
the rise and fall is great, and the water very shallow 
near the shore. In bad weather there is considerable 
uncertainty and danger, and sometimes disembarcation 
is delayed a considerable time." And he quotes in 
proof of all this a complaint or indignation meeting 
of the passengers of the American steamer, ''J. L. 
Stephens," in 1856, in which they complained of having 
been put with their baggage on board a small steamer 
and a lighter to be conveyed on shore, a distance of 
FIVE miles. f Such an account as this is Kkely to 
mislead and misinform one entirely with regard to 
the port of Panama : exceptions must not be taken or 

* President of the Panam^ Railroad Company, 
t " The Gate of the Pacific." 


mistaken for rules. On an average, three thousand 
passengers per month are embarked and landed with- 
out extraordinary discomfort for and from the various 
steamers in the Bay of Panama, which are chiefly 
those anchored at the islands of Flamenco and Perico, 
and certainly not distant more than two and a half 
miles from the railway pier. It is of course true, 
with so great a rise and fall of tide, that the tide is 
unsuitable at certain times for the approach of the 
small steamers to the landing-pier, as it is at 
Boulogne ; but when this is the case, passengers are 
allowed to remain quietly on shore, or on board their 
ship, until they can be transferred without incon- 
venience. The passengers who are perhaps the worst 
off in this respect are those of the Pacific Steam 
Navigation Company, owing to the greater distance 
of Taboga (where the vessels of this line anchor) 
from Panama; but the trip to and from Taboga is 
merely a matter of an hour and a half, and is not 
generally more dangerous or disagreeable, taking the 
climate into account, than that to which passengers 
proceeding by steamers lying in the Southampton 
river are exposed when going out to join their 

'' Taboga Island, with those of Urava and Taboga- 
illa, forms a pleasant group of islands about four miles 
long by two broad, lying nine miles to the southward 
of Panama. Taboga, the highest and largest, 930 
feet above the sea, is w^ell cultivated, with a con- 
siderable village on the north-east side. To the 


northward of the village is the Morro of Taboga, 
a small hill connected to the mainland by a low sandy 
isthmus covered at high water."* 

" From the bay the scene is certainly very enchant- 
ing, so much so that I would recommend all travellers 
who are favoured by the view to stay, and not run 
the risk of disenchantment. The island is very 
mountainous, the village very picturesque, at a 
distance, but alas ! on landing and proceeding to our 
queer little abode, much in the style of a French 
lodging-house, in some very out-of-the-way Norman 
village, great was our disenchantment. Hard flinty 
stones cutting straight through your boots, more dirt a 
la Panama, many more pigs, lean dogs, and goats. The 
latter, together with enormous crabs, used to walk 
into our sitting-room and promenade at their ease; 
the hungry dogs would prowl about, terribly tame, 
sniffing after any food they could pick up ; the cats, 
too, so gaunt, and lean^ and hungry, poor beasts — for 
it is not a land of milk and honey, and neither 
human nor dumb animals fatten on good things. ? 

^' There was a fine bath to be got after a hard 
clamber up the side of the mountain, more beautiful 
scenery, exquisite foliage, great magnificent trees, and 
a stream running along rocks and stones."f 

The English Company have an extensive factory 
for repairing their steamers at the Morro, which was 
purchased by this company some years ago, and here 

* " vSouth American Pilot." 
t " Panama as a Home," " All the Year Iloimd." 


one meets with a little colony of a hundred Scotch 
mechanics, who appear to enjoy good health, and 
be able to do a fair day's work, notwithstanding the 
heat and drawbacks of the climate generally. Here, 
too, there are " pretty little cottages clean and white, 
but built of wood and cruelly hot."* At this island 
Her Majesty's ships stationed at Panama procure 
their supplies of coals and fresh provisions and fruit. 
There is a gridiron too, 300 feet long, on which 
H.M.S. " Magicienne," a vessel of 1255 tons, was 
repaired in 1858. If the Admiralty were to make 
a depot at Panama for the Pacific squadron, as may 
some day be necessary, there is probably no island 
in the bay that would be more suitable and con- 
venient for the purpose than Taboga, as there is a 
great rise and fall of the tide there, giving facilities 
for the examination and repair of large vessels, 
facilities which are not to be met with elsewhere 
in the Pacific nearer than at San Prancisco. At 
Taboga the supply of good fresh water is at all times 

" The anchorage formed by the Morro is conve- 
nient, being about three cables from the shore in ten 
fathom s."t 

Taboga is generally considered more healthy than 
either Panama or Colon, and is much less subject 
to rain than the mainland. 

The accompanying drawing shows a comparison 
of the temperature of the Island of Taboga with 

* " Panama as a Home." f " South American Pilot," 


Colon, of which the result is peculiarly striking, 
considering that there is hardly a distance of fifty 
miles, as the crow flies, between the two places. The 
table was prepared in 1863, by an English physician 
resident at Taboga, from the result of observations 
taken at both places. 

Farther south, on the eastern side of the bay, are 
the famous Pearl Islands, a group comprising sixteen 
islands and several rocks. Here numerous small 
villages are dispersed, containing the population en- 
gaged in the pearl-fisheries, in all about 2,000 souls. 
We have seen in the preceding statistics that pearls 
and pearl-shells are now exported from these islands 
to the value of about £35,000 annually. Bouillet, in 
his '' Dictionnake Universel a Histoire et de Geo- 
graphic," says, that the pearl-fisheries of Panama are 
now abandoned, but I do not find they were ever more 
productive than at present ; even before the emancipa- 
tion of the slaves, the value of the exports was not 
above 80,000 dollars (£16,000). In the Bay of 
Panama, sharks are very numerous, and pearl-fishing 
is not without its dangers from this cause. At certain 
times of the year the sharks come up to Panama and 
frequent the shipping, when they are easily caught by 
the sailors. On one occasion I witnessed myself an 
instance of the rapacity and extraordinary powers of 
digestion of these monsters of the deep. The mate of 
a ship lying at Taboga had fallen overboard one night 
after dark, and although every search was made for him 
without delay, his body could not be found. On the 


following day, a large shark was caught by the sailors 
of a neighbouring ship, and, on the monster being 
opened, an arm of the poor sailor, with the sleeves of 
his jacket and shirt, were found in the shark's stomach, 
together -with two soda-water bottles. This was all 
that was ever found of the poor sailor. 

The pearls of Panama are distinguishable from those 
of the East by their oval shape, which often takes the 
form of a pear. The Eastern pearls are round, but are 
of a more brilliant hue.* 

* For further particulars of the pearl fisheries see pages 334: and 335. 

[ 299 ] 


Nationality of the Eailway. 

In a former chapter, I proposed to examine more 
minutely the question of the nationality of the 
Panama Eailway, and to see what England had 
lost by losing what is called the command of the 
Isthmus route. Captain Pim, in his ''Gate of the 
Pacific," makes out that we have lost a very great 
deal ; more, I think, than is actually the case. *^ The 
fact cannot be repeated too often," says Captain Pim, 
*'that the Panama Eailway is the only transit, and 
that it belongs exclusively to the United States." By the 
contract entered into between the Government of New 
Granada and the Panama Eailroad Company (which will 
be found in the Appendix), the Government granted 
to the Company the exclusive right of constructing a line 
of railway between the two oceans, across the Isthmus of 
Panama, and this privilege continues in force for forty- 
nine years, computed from the 27th January, 1855 (the 
day upon which the railroad was opened to public use) . 
It was stipulated, however, that at the expiration of 
twenty years, counting from the date on which the 


railroad was completed, the Government might resume 
the privilege for the benefit of New Granada, on 
paying the sum of 5,000,000 dollars (£1,000,000 
sterling) to the Company in compensation for the plant, 
and the materials and workmanship which had been 
expended on the road. This privilege, it was stipu- 
lated, might also be resumed at the expiration of thirty 
years, on the payment of 4,000,000 of dollars; at the 
expiration of forty years on the payment of 2,000,000 
of dollars ; and at the expiration of the forty-nine 
years without any payment whatever. Captain Pim 
even admits that the soil upon which the railway is 
constructed is the property of New Granada, and is 
held on lease only ; but he asserts that unmistakable 
evidence has been given, both before and since the out- 
break of the present war, that the leasehold is intended 
to be converted into a freehold. Of this, I think 
further proofs are wanting than those which Captain 
Pim or any one else has brought forward ; and I think 
he makes throughout his work, when referring to the 
railway, a grand mistake, by inferring that it is an 
enterprise of the United States, when, in fact, it is 
simply that of a private company, of which even 
Englishmen are directors. 

The route, it is well known, was never asked for or 
conceded to the United States, and the Government of 
the United States refused to the original projectors any 
assistance in carrying out the undertaking. 

As has been before correctly observed, after both 
French and English speculators had obtained more 


favourable grants of the same route, a few American 
mercliants undertook the work, and having by an 
honourable contract secured their privilege, they spent 
almost the whole of their private fortunes in perfecting 
the scheme. "No imposing ceremony inaugurated 
the ' breaking ground.' Two American citizens, leaping, 
axe in hand, from a native canoe, upon a wild and 
desolate island, their retinue consisting of half a dozen 
Indians, who cleared the path with rude knives, strike 
their glittering axes into the nearest tree ; the rapid 
blows reverberate from shore to shore, and the stately 
cocoa crashes upon the beach. Thus, unostentatiously 
was announced the commencement of a railway, which, 
from the interests and difficulties involved, might well 
be looked upon as one of the grandest and boldest 
enterprises ever attempted."* 

It is impossible that we can deny to the Americans 
these facts ; and I think that it is unnecessary to our 
cause that we should appear to do so ; for certainly, as 
far as the railway has yet been conducted, it has been 
fairly open to all nations, and it is indeed impossible to 
see how, in the interests of the company, it could be 
otherwise. Indeed, by the fifty-first article of the 
company's contract with the Government of New 
Granada, it is stipulated that, " In consequence of the 
collection of the duties and rates of transportation 
fixed by it, the company binds itself always to efiect 
with care, punctuality, and celerity, and without ex- 
ception as to national character^ the transportation of 

* " Handbook of the Panam^ Railroad." 


travellers, cattle, merchandise, goods and materials of 
all kinds which may be confided to it." 

In the same article it is also stipulated, in a sense 
far from that of exclusion^ that all " shall be trans- 
ported without any deduction from the established 
prices, except such as it may allow in favour of nations 
which are now bound, or may hereafter become bound, 
by means of public treaties entered into with New 
Granada, to guarantee positively and effectually to this 
republic its rights of sovereignty and ownership over 
the territory of the Isthmus of Panama, and the 
perfect neutrality of said Isthmus, to the end that the 
free transit from one sea to another may never be inter- 
rupted or embarrassed." Captain Pim says, in reference 
to the intention of the Americans to make the Panama 
route exclusive, and convert their leasehold into a free- 
hold — "An unmistakable exposition of the popular 
determination in- this matter has lately been given 
by the seizure of Confederates upon neutral ground, 
and their forcible conveyance as prisoners across the 
Panama Eailway, in direct violation of the neutrality 
of New Granada ; remonstance and protest only elicit- 
ing the startling reply that the line was held to be the 
property of the United States."* But in this matter 
our gallant sailor and author has been misinformed. 
The facts were that three Confederate prisoners were 
brought down from San Prancisco, and forcibly taken 
across the Isthmus as prisoners by the Federal officers 
in charge of them ; but it is also true that the Govern- 

* " Gate of the Pacific." 


ment of the United States immediately disapproved of 
the act, and apologised to the Government of New 
Granada for the unauthorized violation of the neutrality 
which had been committed by the officer in command 
of the United States troops, by whom the prisoners 
were brought to Panama. Again, on a subsequent oc- 
casion, in 1864,* the United States consul at Panama, 
asked the permission of the President of the State to 
convey across the Isthmus an American prisoner. 

Again too in this year we have had, I submit, an 
"unmistakable exposition" of the intention of the 
Federal Government of the United States not to violate 
the neutrality of the United States of Colombia^ 
by the proceedings of the American officials in the 
matter of the Confederate prisoners seized on board the 
Panama Eaiboad Company's steamer. We have seen 
in a preceding chapter, that permission was asked of 
the local authorities for the conveyance of these 
prisoners across the Isthmus, and that it was refused. 
This did not " elicit the startling reply that the line 
was held to be the property of the United States," but, 
on the contrary, the American admiral and American 
consul had the good sense and judgment to submit 
to the decision of the President of the State of Panama 
— a decision too which that functionary had no power 
to enforce. The prisoners which were to have been 
sent by way of the Panama Eailway to New York 
were actually sent to San Francisco. 

From these facts it will be seen, that whatever the 

* April, 1864. 


Americans may be supposed to aspire to, they have 
not yet set aside the neutrality of the State through 
which the railway runs, or assumed the line to be the 
property of the United States. 

With apparently more reason does the author of the 
" Gate of the Pacific" quote that part of the Colonial 
Secretary's speech, on the occasion when the Duke of 
Newcastle said, that when there was an apprehension 
of hostilities with the United States, he was unable to 
communicate with the Governor of British Columbia 
for the space of six weeks, there being the possible 
chance of any despatches sent via Panama falling into 
hostile hands ; but even this, I take it, referred as 
much to the risk in conveyance of the despatches 
from Panama to British Columbia, as in their transit 
across the Isthmus. If we are to have perfect security 
for English correspondence to British Columbia in 
time of war with America, we must have other than 
American ships to carry our letters over half the 

The greater development of the resources of Peru, 
Chili, Mexico, and Central America, and the growth 
of cotton in these countries, have now begun to attract 
the attention of commercial men in the Old World, as 
well as in the United States, and we have seen, in a 
few short months, no less than three new lines of 
British steamers established between Liverpool and 
Colon. These lines have since, I believe, amalgamated 
under the direction of one company ; but a fortnightly 
communication, or one thrice a month, has been main- 


tained from England, in addition to the packets twice 
a month of the Royal Mail Company. 

But Panama has been particularly brought under 
the notice of England and English travellers of late 
by the establishment of the colony of British Columbia, 
and the reports of the recent gold discoveries therein. 
During the year 1862 particularly, hardly a steamer 
arrived at the Atlantic port of the Isthmus that did 
not bring a hundred or two of stout young Englishmen 
full of life and energy, bound for the new colony. Even 
the British volunteer was tempted to take his rifle 
tliither, while colonels in the army and post-captains 
in the navy, who were prepared to rough it_, started as 
deck passengers, and inured themselves to the hard- 
ships of life at the diggings by a course of the dis- 
comforts of steerage passages on board the steamers. 
It is to be regretted that so many of those who so left 
have been disappointed and deceived ; but not the less 
will British Columbia become a great and important 
colony, and a valuable possession to the mother country, 
and, on this account, has a free transit route become 
all-important to us. 

These circumstances have awakened us to the im- 
portance of the Panama route. It has been said that 
" had this line proved to be a commercial failure, there 
might possibly have arisen a chance of effecting an 
arrangement with the Americans, its owners, so as to 
convert it into a highway permanently free to the 
whole world. But instead of being a failure, the line 
is paying from fifteen to twenty per cent., and the 



question is, shall England go on traversing this route, 
and becoming familiar with this mode of transmitting 
her commerce and her mails on a sufferance which 
may in time of war be suddenly withdrawn ; or will 
she not rather resolve to lose no time in carrying a 
route through available districts on another part of the 
Isthmus, establishing it on guarantees of unrestricted 
freedom ?"* Put in this way it appears certainly a 
grave question ; and Captain Pim places the matter in 
a very strong light, when he says, " If the Panama 
route were a great highway of nations open to the 
whole world, there would be no cause of disquiet or 
distrust on the part of England." In discussing the 
question, however, we do better to first take facts as 
they exist, rather than as they may become. First, 
then, the railway is simply owned by a private com- 
pany, the shares of which are, it is said, more than 
half held by Englishmen. 

Secondly, it is at present utterly out of the power of 
the company to withhold to one nation more than to 
another the right of the transit. Nor could, I take it, 
the American Government do so unless it swallowed 
up the little republic of New Granada. But to sup- 
pose that France and England, with the vast interests 
these nations have at stake in keeping the Panama 
route as it has hitherto been, a great highway of 
nations, open to the whole world, would look quietly 
on and see the Isthmus, at least, so swallowed up, is 
to take a great deal for granted. If the Americans, in 

* " Saturday Review." 


a war with England, "which," as the treaties say, 
"God forbid," were strong enough to keep inen-of-war 
at the termini of the railroad, or otherwise take pos- 
session of the line to the exclusion of English com- 
merce and mails, and in spite of any force which 
England could oppose, it is difficult to see what is to 
prevent the same being done with any other route 
" carried through available districts on another part of 
the Isthmus." This is assuming too much, and show- 
ing a white feather to the Yankees for which our naval 
officers generally would not thank us. But if the 
once United States were to annex Panama_, the question 
would of course assume another aspect -, and this is 
the only case in which I can imagine the railway 
becoming other than " a highway permanently free to 
the whole world." Up to the present time, therefore, 
we have to admit that the railway is constructed on a 
neutral territory; that the American Government is 
not, nor ever has been, the owner of that territory ; 
that during the ten years which the railway has been in 
operation, it has been perfectly free and open to all 
nations on equal terms with the American. This is 
unquestionably the state of things as far as they have 
yet gone ; and if this state of things be maintained, 
there is no very great grievance. It must be our 
look-out to see that it is so maintained. Whether 
this would be more eifectually done • by an unmistak- 
able and declared determination on ih.Q part of England 
and France to protect the neutrality of the Isthmus, 
or whether these nations should join hand-in-hand 

X 2 


with the American nation, and so purchase together 
an indefinite extension of the railway grant, are ques- 
tions out of my province to discuss ; but it appears to 
me that the time has now arrived for the matter to be 
settled whilst it admits of settlement, so that there 
may be no question, a few years hence, as to our right 
of way, or as to the neutrality of the Isthmus of 
Panama. Allowing that the question admits of settle- 
ment on such easy terms as either of these, what then 
have we lost by losing the Panama Eailroad ? Firstly, 
from English want of confidence in the integrity of our 
American cousins, we have certainly lost the enjoy- 
ment of that feeling of security which we should have 
had, had the railway been owned by New Granadians, 
by ourselves, by French, by Grermans, or by the people 
of any nation other than the American. Secondly, as 
we ourselves lost it — for we were among the earliest 
bidders for it — we lost that prestige which such an 
enterprise naturally gives to an old country in a new 
one, and with this we have consequently lost the lion's 
share of the profits ; for of course the Americans hold 
a large number of shares. We have lost, too, the 
direction and management of the afiair. English pas- 
sengers and even English mails must be in little things 
second to American passengers and American mails, 
and must wait the convenience of the arrangements 
which are made for the Americans. But I hold that 
it is quite within our power to limit these losses, and 
keep them within bounds. If this can be done, we 
have the route with which we are " becoming familiar- 


ized," ready cut and dried for our present use, and for 
all time to come. 

Surely some such arrangement as tliis is more 
feasible than that of attempting an opposition route on 
another part of the Isthmus, the expense of which would 
be enormous, and the profits of which, by its most 
sanguine supporters, can only be based and calculated 
upon the profits of the existing route. But how would 
not these profits dwindle into losses when the one line 
would be opposing the other with all the self-destroy- 
ing energy of the American steam-ship lines, of which 
we have had over and over again examples. And then 
a railway too of 161 miles in length to compete with 
one 47^ miles long ! Let us take Captain Pim's own 
description of the Panama Railway — ^it is as good as any 
other — of this line of 47|^ miles, and we shall at least be 
able to form an idea of the nature of such an under- 
taking in the neighbourhood of the Isthmus of 

" The work of the Panama Railroad," says Captain 
Pim, "commenced in January, 1850, and was finished 
on the 28th January, 1855, having occupied five years 
in completing. The nature of the country through 
which the line of road had to be carried, was calcu- 
lated to strike the hardiest speculator with dismay. 
The first thirteen miles from the Atlantic led through 
deep swamps covered with jungle, full of reptiles and 
venomous insects. Further on, the line ran through 
a rugged country^ over rapid rivers and all sorts of 
impediments ; and, after passing the summit, descended 


rapidly to the Pacific. The climate also was sultry, 
beyond almost any other part of the world, while 
during the wet season the rains descended in a perfect 
deluge. Moreover, to crown all, the resources of the 
country were found to be nil, or nearly so, and con- 
sequently everything, especially labour, had to be 
imported. Despite all these obstacles, the undertak- 
ing was commenced ; and, under the able superintend- 
ence of Colonel G. M. Totten, one of the boldest and 
grandest enterprises of modern times was successfully 

" The total length of the road is 47 miles 3020 
feet. It runs on the right or easterly bank of the 
Chagres, as far as Barbacoas, where it crosses the 
river by a bridge 625 feet in length, 18 feet in 
breadth, and 40 feet above the main level of the river. 
This bridge is of wrought-iron, and is exactly midway 
between Aspinwall and Panama ; and it is not a little 
singular that the bridge thrown across the Nile between 
Alexandria and Cairo is also exactly half-way ; in other 
words, both the great Isthmus transits of the world 
are intersected at half their length by a large river. 
The Barbacoas bridge is of six spans, built of boiler- 
iron, with a top and bottom cord 2 feet in breadth 
and 1 inch in thickness, joined by a web of boiler- 
iron 9 feet in height at the centre and 7 at the 
ends. The rails are laid on iron floor-girders 3 feet 
apart, and the whole structure is supported by five 
piers and two abutments ' 26 feet wide and 8 
feet in thickness, increasing in the proportion of an 


inch to the foot down to their foundations, which are 
constructed of piles and concrete. 

" The highest point of the line is 37f miles from the 
Atlantic, and is 263 feet above the mean level of that 
ocean. The maximum grade on the Atlantic slope is 
1 in 90 ; on the Pacific descent it is rather more — 
namely, 1 in 88. 

*' Of the road, 23f miles are level and 28f straight, 
but there are some very abrupt curves. There are no 
less than 134 culverts, drains, and bridges of 10 feet 
and under, and as many as 170 bridges from 12 feet 
span to 625 feet span. 

" The line is a single one, but there are four com- 
modious sidings, viz., one at Gratun, 7|- miles from 
Aspinwall ; one near Barbacoas, 22 miles ; one at 
Malachin, 30 miles ; and one at the summit, 37 miles. 
Experience has proved that there is no difficulty in 
keeping the Hue in order at a reasonable expense, but, 
on the contrary, that it continues in better condition 
than similar works in Northern latitudes, where the 
climate appears to have a more injurious effect than 
within the tropics." 

Stations occur at every four miles. The hguse is 
the residence of the track-master, who, with ten 
labourers, has charge of the intervening mileage. The 
road is kept in perfect order by these men. There 
are 12 track-masters and 120 labourers in the employ 
of the company, solely to look after the security of 
the line. Their wages are — track-masters, three dol- 
lars per diem ; labourers, 60 cents. 


The staff of the company is not very extensive, 
the civil engineers, with their assistants and ma- 
naging clerks, constituting the greatest expense. The 
strictest economy, consistent with efficiency, is prac- 
tised : for example, there are excellent locomotive 
shops at Aspinwall, in which the engineers and stokers, 
when not at work on the railroad, are employed ; and 
it is said that the business done in effecting the neces- 
sary repairs for steamers calling at the bay almost 
supports the engineering staff and working locomotive 
expenses of the company. 

" A substantial telegraph is established between 
Aspinwall and Panama. There are twenty-six posts 
to the mile, constructed in the following manner : — 
A scantling, four inches square, of pitch-pine, is en- 
cased in cement, moulded in a cylindrical form, taper- 
ing towards the top, and sunk four feet in the ground. 
I was assured that when once dry these posts would 
last for ages. The cost of each was five dollars, about 
£1 sterling. They have the appearance of hewn stone, 
and are quite an ornament along the line. 

" The total expenditure of the Panama Eailway 
Comp§.ny amounted to 7,407,553 dollars, or rather 
more than £1,500,000 sterling, which is very nearly 
£32,000 per mile, an expense, by the by, below the 
average of our English lines, which is £34,638 per mile. 

" Yery few undertakings have paid better than the 
Panama Eailway — a return of 15 per cent, to the 
shareholders is acknowledged:"^ 

* " The Gate of the Pacific." 


The following article, which was communicated to 
the '' Panama Star and Herald/'* appears to refute the 
arguments of the author of the '' Grate of the 
Pacific :" — 

" Capt. Bedford Pim, of H. B. M.'s Navy, has just 
published a work with the above title. The burden 
of his labours seems to be to prove the necessity of 
England having a canal or railroad of her own, ad- 
ducing as a late and most cogent reason the fear that 
the railroad officials would have intercepted English 
despatches during the excitement caused by the ' Trent 
affair/ Now we are not aware that either the Eng- 
lish Government or English passengers have ever had 
aught to complain of from want of faith or want of 
courtesy on the part of the company. Be this as it 
may, we believe everybody is_, up to the present^ well 
convinced that if Nicaragua, from its lake, is the best 
place for a canal, the Isthmus of Panama offers the 
greatest facilities for a railroad. The lowness of its 
summit-level counterbalances any superiority as to 
inter-oceanic distance other parts of the Isthmus might 
possess. The same topographical reasons which caused 
the Spaniards to prefer their line of inter-oceanic com- 
munication between Panama and Chagres in preference 
to the shorter absolute distance between San Miguel 
and Caledonia Bays are no less powerful at the present 
day, whether the question be by canal or rail ; no ex- 
plorations on any part of the Isthmus have thrown the 
least discredit on the sagacity of the Spaniards, or 

* Panama " Star and Herald," April 10, 1863. 


prove that they had not selected the only and most 
suitable part of the Isthmus. 

" If, with all these advantages, the construction of 
the Panama Eailroad was found to be no easy matter, 
we may well despair of seeing a canal in Nicaragua, 
though backed by the Emperor of the French. 

'* Capt. Pim, admitting this, recommends the con- 
struction of a railroad across Central America from 
Gorgon Bay in the Atlantic to Eealejo in the Pacific. 
The distance, though some five times that of the 
Panama Eailroad, he thinks would be counterbalanced 
by the consequent local development of the resources 
of the country. We spent some years in that country, 
and are certain that, so far as the natives are con- 
cerned, their improvements, whether in land or trade, 
affecting the profits of the proposed railway, will be on 
a par with what can be seen among the new Grana- 
dians, and that is — nil. 

" However, as the road is to be made by England_, 
and open to all nations, that might be overlooked. We 
know the Mosquito Coast to be exceedingly unhealthy. 
That labour will be found abundant and cheap, as well 
as materials, has not yet been proved; and that the ex- 
pense of the road per mile shall therefore be so much 
less than that of the Panama Eailroad, has also to be 
tested. That the rapidly increasing importance of New 
Zealand and Australia will sooner or later demand the 
establishment of a route per Isthmus is clear enough ; 
but we see no reason why a friendly union between 
Englishmen and Americans necessarily should be in- 


terrupted, or that arrangements might not be entered 
into for the joint use and extension of the existing 
Panama KaiLroad, instead of seeking other transits 
where great inter-oceanic distances must always render 
more or less questionable any other advantages 
they may be expected to possess or develop here- 

" It is true that the public mind of England has 
never fairly recognised the importance of the Isthmus, 
either to themselves or anybody else ; neither the sad 
failure of the Scotch colony, nor the exploits of her 
buccaniers and early navigators have been sufficient to 
turn her attention from the * barbaric splendour' of 
her Eastern conquests. It was reserved for the 
Americans. They are fairly entitled to the credit as 
well as the profit of the enterprise. But that is no 
reason why we should not join with her in the further 
extension of an enterprise for the benefit of all the 
world, any more than we use her steam-ploughs, or 
watch the doings of her iron-clad war-vessels." 

Capt. Pim thinks his railway might be carried 
through for a million sterling ! In the Appendix, is 
a translation of the contract with the Government of 
Nicaragua. Those who are interested on the subject 
cannot do better than compare it with the contract of 
the Panama Eailway Company with the Government of 
New Granada. If we must have a railway to ourselves, 
it is only a question of money. The Panama extension 
is now up at auction, and may probably be obtained 
by the highest bidder. The following is the opinion 


of the President of the United States of Colombia on 
the subject, given on the 14th May, 1864 : — 

*' Opinion' of the Citizen President of the Union 
ON THE Sale of the Eight of Eansom from 
THE Panama Eailroad. 

" U.S. of Colombia, National Executive Power, 
Sec. of Internal and Foreign Affairs. 

" To the Secretary of the Senate Chamber. 

" I have communicated to the President of the 
Union your official despatch of 10th inst., accompanied 
by the copy of a project of law, authorizing the open- 
ing of negotiations with the Panama Eailroad Com- 
pany on the rights which the nation has in said 
enterprise, in which you state that the Senate had re- 
solved to suspend the deliberation until the Citizen 
President should utter an opinion on the utility of its 

'' In reply I have received instructions to say : 
" The Executive Power believes it expedient to 
legislate on the subject ; it thinks that the sale of the 
right of ransom which the nation reserved to itself by 
the third article of the contract of privileges, ought 
to be effected, and that an extension of fifty years 
more ought to be insured. But it judges also that the 
opening of negotiations ought not to be limited to the 
proposal that the company, which at the present has 
the privilege, may make, but that purchasers and 
lessees should be sought in all the principal industrial 
marts of Europe and America. 


" In effecting the sale there should, besides, be sti- 
pulated various concessions in behalf of the revenue of the 
State of Panama, such as the tax on passengers, and 
others in favour of the traffic between our Atlantic and 
Pacific ports, and vice versa ; thus also the stipulations 
that the Government of the company purchasing 
should grant its approval of the contract, and should 
constitute itself by the same act a guarantee of 
the neutrahty of the Isthmus in all international 

" To be convinced of the utility of selling the right 
of ransom, it is sufficient to note that the republic 
obtains at present from the enterprise most productive, 
and consequently most valuable on the 'Changes of 
New York and London, only the insignificant sum of 
1 8,000 dollars annually, more or less, when it is evident 
that without the monopoly of the road, which is the 
property of the nation, said enterprise could not pro- 
duce even the half of the profits which it obtains from 
being exclusively privileged, and the construction of 
another channel of communication by land or water on 
the Isthmus not being allowed* 

" Such a sum, the proceeds of three per cent, on the 
net profits of the enterprise, is not even sufficient to 
maintain the garrison at Panama, indispensable to 
meet the exigencies for the security of the transit, 
which the nation is compromised to afford, and much 
less for the claims of indemnity for injuries, such as 
those which rose out of the fray between some of the 
inhabitants of the Isthmus and some passengers on 


the 15th April, 1855, and which, with conspicuous in- 
justice, the last Slave Administration of the U. S. of 
America compelled us to pay. 

'' If, then, the nation had not reserved to itself the 
right of ransoming the road at the end of the first 
twenty years, for 5,000,000 dollars, the contract of 
privileges would be the most onerous that could be 
conceived for us, inasmuch as during these first twenty 
years, our treasury, far from having gained, has been 
burdened by the existence of the railroad, and this 
without taking into consideration the humiliation 
saddled on the republic by the stationing, almost 
permanently, of foreign ships of war, which, alleging 
the necessity of protecting their countrymen, have not 
unfrequently endeavoured to meddle in the internal 
government of the State or attempted to embarrass its 

'' For the same reasons the utility of selling the re- 
served rights is to the President of the Union, incon- 
trovertible ; and if, at the end of twenty years, that is 
to say, more or less within eleven years, they have 
not been sold, it will be indispensable to search for 
the 5,000,000 of dollars to give them to the company, 
that the nation may become the exclusive owner of the 
road, to manage it of itself, or to sell it as may seem 
most profitable. 

" Besides, it would be convenient at once to sell the 
reserved rights and an extension of privileges for fifty 
years, because the nation has other industrial wants 
which it is compulsory to meet soon. 


" In order to calculate tlie price, the President is of 
opinion that there ought to be taken into account the 
proceeds of the enterprise in the year 1861, the year 
in which the relation between the currency of the 
United States of America and the value of gold and 
silver in the general commerce of the world had not 
been altered, and the year of the most moderate 
profits, and, for the same reason, the least open to 
objection. According to the company's balance^ it 
appears that the cost of constructing the road was 
8,000,000 dollars, and it produced in that year 
1,575,475 dollars. Deducting expenses there remained 
963,811 dollars 89c. of net profits — that is to say, 
somewhat more than twelve per cent, per annum. 

" Furthermore, in similar industrial enterprises with- 
out an exchisive privilege, no one expects ordinarily to 
obtain an interest of more than six per cent, on the 
capital invested, so that even admitting, because of 
locahty, that an interest of eight per cent, ought to 
be recognised, the four per cent, additionally gained 
in this speculation represents the monopoly of the 
transit, a monopoly which pertains only to the sovereign 
of the country. Taking the calculation from the 
balance of the year 1861, that interest of the monopoly 
was 321,170 dollars 63c. By selling the reserved 
rights, we sell a rent equivalent at least to that 
annual sum during twenty-nine years, and the same, 
if not more, during the years of the extension. But 
admitting still further that the administration of the 
enterprise and other considerations demand that the 


third part of that sum should remain with the com- 
pany purchasing, the other two-thirds, which amount 
to 214,160 dollars, will fall incontrovertibly to the 
nation in each year. 

" Furthermore, as it is considered to sell, in antici- 
pation by ten or eleven years, the right to this annual 
income, the calculation of price has to be modified, 
especially if it be desired to have a precise sum on 
which to rely in contracting, say, for a railroad in the 

" It is on such considerations and moderate calcula- 
tions that the President would desire that authority 
be given to negotiate and to sell. Verbally, when 
the Senate engages in the discussion of this project, 
I shall have the honor to enter on the details which 
the business may require, according to the tenor of 
the instructions which I have received from the 
Citizen President." 

In entering thus fully into the question of the 
Panama Railroad versus any other route, it is un- 
necessary for me to state that I have no interest in 
the matter one way or another, beyond that which 
every Enghshman naturally feels when there is an in- 
terest for his country. I have no new line to propose, 
no limited liability company to originate, nor have I 
the least desire to write up the present route beyond 
its merits ; but on a question in which Englishmen 
generally appear to be so much in the dark it seems to 
me no less than a duty to throw in what light I can. 

The " Daily News," of the 12th January of this 


year says : " The Panama Eailroad is excessively ex- 
pensive, the danger to person and property is con- 
siderable from the barbarism of the people collected 
there, and the delays and impediments are serious." 

The reader of these pages will now be able to judge 
for himself with what reason or justice such comments 
are made. 



Natural Resources of the Isthmus. 

The able reports collected by Mr. Powles, the 
Chairman of the Committee of Spanish American 
Bondholders in London, give various and conflicting 
evidence as to the most desirable points for the selec- 
tion of the lands offered by the New Granadian 
Government to the bondholders in 1861. The 
Isthmus of Panama has been, however, very generally 
favourably spoken of, and some of these reports con- 
tain so much interesting information connected with 
the subject I have in hand, that I may be pardoned 
for transcribing those relating to the Isthmus of 
Panama to these pages, the more so as it wiU enable 
my readers to form a better idea of the properties of 
the Isthmus than I could convey from my own per- 
sonal experience. As Mr. Powles tells us : 

" The Government of New Granada concluded an 
arrangement in March, 1861, with the holders of the 
bonds of its foreign debt, by which it assigned to 
them certain lands, being national property, in satis- 
faction of certain concessions of interest made by the 


bondholders. In other words, it paid a portion of its 
debt to the bondholders in land. 

" The parties interested in this debt have, of neces- 
sity, a special interest in examining into the capa- 
bilities of the lands which they have thus acquired, 
and seeing how they can best be turned to account. 

" In order to obtain particulars of the lands 
belonging to the State throughout the republic, 
Mr. Birchall, acting as agent of the Committee of 
Bondholders^, was requested to apply to the Govern- 
ment for information thereon, which is contained in 
the following communication from the Secretary of 
Finance to Mr. Birchall."* 

Extract, referring to Panama, from Eeport, prepared 
purposely by the Chorographic Commission, for the 
service of the Committee of Spanish- American Bond- 
holders resident in London : 

" This State, the best situated of any in the Union, 
as it possesses an immense sea-coast upon both the 
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has above 4,650,000 hec- 
tares of waste lands. The climate of the State is hot 
and healthy in some parts, in others cold and healthy, 
and in others (the fewest) damp and rather unhealthy : 
but in general more healthy than Algeria and other 
parts of the African coast upon the Mediterranean. 

" The soil of the State is very metalliferous, and 
there are fisheries on the coast of valuable pearls, tor- 
toise-shells, &c. There are many favourable spots for 
the cultivation of cotton on a large scale, and the same 

• New Granada ; its Internal Resources. By J. D. Powles, Esq. 

Y 2 



may be said of cocoa {Theobroma cacao), sugar-cane, 
coffee, &c. Dye-woods abound, as well as timber for 
ship-building and furniture- work, resins, ofi&cinal plants. 
Most advantageous points exist on both oceans for 
the establishment of commercial ports, and lands filled 
with natural riches, which will double in value the 
day that the inter-oceanic canal shall be opened to 
give passage to the productions of Europe, Africa, 
and America towards Asia and Oceania, and the 

Statement of Waste Lands, and their description, calculated in leagues of 
New Granada of 6,250 yards, same measurement, equivalent to 5,000 
metres French measurement, applicable to each State, with the total 
extent of each ; also in New Granada square leagues, which are in the 
proportion of rather more than 21 leagues of New Granada to each 

degree containing 20 

leagues of 60 

nautical miles. 










Panama . 










The following is extracted from the report of 
Mr. Bennett, Civil Engineer, who was professionally 
occupied in New Granada in 1853 and 1854, ad- 
dressed to the Committee of Spanish- American Bond- 
holders, in June_, 1861. He says : 

'' My knowledge of New Granada is derived from 
personal observation during professional engagements 
there in the years 1853 and 1854, and extends over 
the Isthmus of Darien, the entire delta of the Magda- 
lena, its course to Honda, and the triangle between 


Guaruino and Griiatiqui on the river and Bogota. I 
have also a general knowledge of — the result of close 
inquiry into — the resources of the remainder of the 

" In the year 1854 there were no exports from the 
Isthmus of Darien except a few ounces of gold, though 
there is abundance of apparently good timber, 

" With reference to the most desirable point for the 
holders of land warrants to select in, I am decidedly 
of opinion that the Isthmus of Darien, from its com- 
mercial and strategetical position, will ultimately 
become a most important locality ; and that though 
no immediate return would be derivable from its pos- 
session except from the sale of the timber, it would be 
impossible to estimate the value which this strip of 
land may — in fact, must — attain in a few years. 
It must ultimately become the main highway be- 
tween the two oceans ; it is the shortest and most 
direct route ; no other terminal harbours in Central 
America will bear comparison with Port Ecossais or 
San Miguel, either as respects safety, facilities for 
loading and unloading, or that most important element 
of success on this coast, salubrity. 

" It would be impossible for me to state where I 
would recommend selections in any other part of 
Kew Granada, so much depends on what land is 
open for selection, and the purposes for which it will 
be selected. Even with the assistance of a map show- 
ing the " Tierras Baldias," the climate and soil vary 


SO much in very short distances, that I could give no 
absolute opinion as to the value of any particular site." 
Extract from the report of His Excellency Don 
Juan de Francisco Martin, New Granadian Minister 
in London, addressed to the Chairman of the Com- 
mittee of Spanish- American Bondholders, in May, 

" In the Isthmus of Panama, whose present popula- 
tion consists only of 150,000 souls, the Government 
of New Granada possesses four millions of acres of 
waste lands to dispose of, which lands or their products 
are to be applied to the redemption of the foreign 
debt. Those lands are situated in the province of 
Panama, Yeraguas, and Chiriqui. The temperature is 
between 24° and 27° Centigrade, and in general 
healthy, although hot ; only the cantons of Chagres, 
Cruses, Gorgona, Pacora,* Colon, and Portobelo, are 
unhealthy. Their present productions consist in 
Indian corn (maize), rice, beans, nutritious roots, 
plantains, sugar-canes, coffee, cacao, cocoa-nuts (such 
as produce much oil), cotton, sarsapariUa, straw of 
jipijapa for making hats, pearl-fishery, mother-of-pearl, 
and tortoise-shell. In the provinces of Yeraguas and 
Chiriqui there are large plains with excellent pastures 
for the breeding of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, 
mules, and asses, in whicli the two provinces abound, 
being of easy procreation. In the province of Yeraguas, 
whose temperature is altogether very healthy, there 

* Pacora is not considered by residents on the Isthmus as unhealthy, 
indeed, many of the famiUes from Panama resort thither in the dry season 
for an aojreeable chanp^e of climate. 


are many " diggings/' and very rich gold-mines, the 
gold being of the standard fineness; there are also 
coal-mines, and an abundance of live stock. 

" That land wants only population to develop its 
immense riches. The forests furnish resins and bal- 
sams, fine wood and timber for ship-building, so that 
in clearing the forests their produce will yield more 
than the expenses. A well-organized undertaking for 
colonization would leave great profit, as also propor- 
tionally to the emigrants, inasmuch as with the pro- 
duce of the ground they could in a few years pay for 
the value of the land and appurtenances (tools, &c.) 
which had been apportioned to them. 

" The general productions near the coast consist of 
live stock, rice, Indian corn (maize), cotton, sugar- 
cane, fustic wood and Brazil (called of Eiohaca), tor- 
toise-shell, some cacao and coffee, sarsaparilla, mother- 
of-pearl, tobacco, balsam of tolu and copaiba, cocoa- 
nuts and cocoa-oil, cedars, mahogany, ship-timber, and 
ebony-wood. In the interior they grow cotton, cacao, 
coffee, tobacco, vanilla, indigo, wheat, Indian corn 
(maize), and rice, potatoes_, and other nutritious roots. 
There is an abundance of mines of salt, gold, silver, 
copper, and iron, and one of emeralds ; platina is also 
found in the province of Choco. Horned cattle, sheep, 
goats, pigs, horses, and mules propagate considerably 
in the interior, the pastures being excellent. 

Extract from the report of Don Luis Santa Maria, 
New Granadian Consul afc Liverpool, addressed to the 
Committee in May, 1858 : 


'* In the Isthmus of Panama there are several places 
where the climate is, in my opinion, healthier than in 
many of the West India Islands, Jamaica included. 

" The Isthmus of Panama has borne the repute of 
being a very unhealthy climate ; but, although I have 
not been there, I understand that there are several 
localities where the climate is exceedingly healthy. In 
that Isthmus there are several localities — for example, 
Bocas del Toro, on the Atlantic side ; and just on the 
opposite side, on the Pacific, there is Bahia Honda — 
that must, in the course of time, become most im- 
portant places for agriculture and commerce. 

" One of the branches of the Andes divides the two 
seas just there ; and it seems to me certain, that at a 
certain height on that part of the Andes, a very 
healthy climate must be found, with the great ad- 
vantage that the produce raised there can be shipped 
from either of the two seas at very little expense. 
There are gold mines in the Isthmus which are not 
worked at present for want of labour and capital. 

" I know that excellent cotton may be grown on 
the banks of the Eiver Atrato, province of Chocd, 
where gold and platina mines are abundant_, with a 
navigable river, and said mines are scarcely worked at 
present for want of hands and capital." 

The following is extracted from an elaborate report 
on the " Physical and Political Geography of the State 
of Panama, drawn up by a Commission despatched 
thither for that purpose by the Government of New 
Granada in 1859 ; 



" I shall here only speak of the principal ports, and 
of them in the order of their size, which is in no way 
in proportion to their commercial importance. This 
latter quality is only possessed by two points, through 
which the Isthmus may be rapidly crossed by the 
railway, constructed in the narrowest part of the 
Isthmus, which unites the two Americas. Colon and 
Panama are the ports most advantageous for com- 

" In the North Sea the principal places are the Bay 
of Almirante, and the Lagoon of Chiriqui ; then come 
the Gulf of San Bias, Caledonia, Colon, and Porto- 
belo. There are twenty-five smaller ports. 

'' On the Pacific are the Gulf of San Miguel, that of 
Montijo, and the small gulf in the Golfo-Dulce. There 
are thirty small ports, and among them must be men- 
tioned Boca-Chica, on account of the trade which it 
carries on with David. 

" Climate. 

" The climate of Panama varies considerably ; in 
some parts it is hot and healthy, in others damp and 
unhealthy, and again in others fresh, or even cold and 

" Along all the coast, from the borders of Costa- 
Rica to the Gulf of Uraba, the climate is hot and 
damp, and very prejudicial to the white race ; this 
proceeds from the inundations, and even more from 


the plantations of mangrove-trees that are met with 
on the coast, and their noxious exhalations. To this 
must be added excessive heat and damp caused by the 
frequent rains, and by the moist vapours of the sea, 
which the prevailing winds sweep over the woods, by 
which all this part of the country is covered. This 
does not happen in any part of the Pacific. From 
Panama to Cape Burica, where there are neither 
woods nor inundations, but where it is grass-lands, 
watered by rivers, and nearly all inhabited, the tem- 
perature is hot but not damp, and is conducive to 
health. The mountains are cool and healthy, but 
entirely uninhabited, as much in the southern part, 
which is grassy, as in the northern, which is covered 
with woods. The part of the coast from Panama to 
the borders of Choco is unhealthy; the interior of 
Darien is also rather so, and only the black population, 
or that mixed with Indians, can resist this very rainy 
and hot climate, so damp from the inundations which 
vitiate the atmosphere. Although the mountains of 
Darien are low, and the temperature cool, yet the 
the country cannot yet be called healthy, nor will it 
be so until the great forests shall have disappeared. 
In Portobelo the climate is unhealthy ; the heat is 
excessive from the stillness of the air, and from the 
fortress being surrounded by high mountains; it is 
also exposed to noxious exhalations from vegetable 
matter both on land and water. The nights are as 
suffocating as the days, accompanied with torrents of 
rain, thunder, and flashes of lightning, which 


terrify the mind of a European on his arrival in this 

"Ageiculture and Manufactuee. 

" Maize is the chief produce in all parts of the 
Isthmus, and next to it is rice, which, before the rail- 
road was begun, was exported to Costa- Rica, and to 
all parts of Chiriqui. As to vegetables, there seems 
to be a tolerable quantity of beans, but barely suffi- 
cient for the consumption of each province ; and only 
in consequence of the frequent passing through of 
travellers, and the increased numbers of workmen on 
the railway, have they begun to sow larger quantities, 
and send the produce to Panama. In all these pro- 
vinces there are produced, in more or less abundance, 
hemp, quimboles,* vetches, yucca, plantain, name, oto, 
cainete, coffee, cocoa, ahnyamas, cotton, and sugar- 
cane, from which they obtain molasses and brandy ; 
there is also a fair quantity of cocales, from which oil 
is extracted. These flourish very well, and might 
cover the desert coasts, and become valuable property 
at hardly any cost; their produce, compared with 
other things, cocoa for example, returns double profit. 
As for the cultivation of sugar-cane, cocoa, cofiee, and 
cotton, from which great advantage might be derived, 
it is as yet completely in its infancy ; the produce is 
hardly sufficient for a very small consumption, whereas 

* For many of these words corresponding terms cannot be found in 


it might be largely exported, and with immense profit, 
on account of the facility of maritime transport, and 
the large commercial port of Panama. 

^^ As to manufactures, they are hardly worth men- 
tioning ; they consist of straw and cotton hammocks, 
common linen, hats of white and yellow straw, bags of 
aloe-thread, bags and ropes of the maguey-tree, and 
riding-saddles. They manufacture good bricks^ which 
they export, and earthenware vessels of dijQPerent kinds. 
They make baskets and mats ; they have tan-yards ; 
and build ships, or canoes for one oar, of different 
sizes. They also make soap and candles. 

^^ The reason that, in the whole State of Panama, no 
large estates are met with is, that from within a few 
leagues of Panama to the west coast, the whole country 
is subdivided among all the inhabitants ; the king of 
Spain having given all the land, from the summit of 
the mountains to the sea, with the exception of the 
islands, to the inhabitants at that epoch, in considera- 
tion of a small sum which they were to pay into the 
royal caisse, Not only do the descendants of the 
inhabitants of those days possess a right in these 
lands, but also all those now dwelling there, and all 
who may go to settle there ; so that, as it seems to 
me, the longer delay that occurs in making a reparti" 
miento of the lands in the Isthmus among the inhabi- 
tants, the more will these latter suffer in the quantity 
that can be assigned them ; and, besides, progress is 
thus constantly delayed and hindered in this country. 
Where there is no individual property, but all is in 


common, there can be no agricultural establishments 
of any importance. It follows, that whoever obtains 
a certain quantity of land to inclose for cultivation or 
the breeding of horses, acquires a right in it, and will 
keep it, on account of the portion that may fall to 
him in the general repartimiento. As to the plains 
devoted to the breeding of cattle, if they do not adopt 
the just method of fixing the number of head of cattle 
to be kept in every square league, according as the 
pasture shall be more or less abundant, they will con- 
siderably prejudice the increase of their herds. 


" In the province of Panama, gold is extracted from 
the rivers Marea and Balsas by the few negroes and 
mulattoes who live in the south of Darien. There is 
a tradition of the celebrated mines of Cana, or Espi- 
ritu Santo, near Fuira, which were destroyed by the 
side of the mountain Espiritu Santo, and were deserted 
because the miners had not sufficient wealth to put 
them in order again, and also on account of the attacks 
of the Indians and filibusters then to be met with on 
the coast of North Darien. Formerly these mines 
were called Potosi, on account of the abundance and 
superior quality of the gold ; for with the fifth part 
alone the position of Panama was maintained, the 
mines yielding annually 100,000 castellanos of gold, 
according to the accounts left us of those times. There 
is now no road leading to these mines. Gold mines 


are being explored in the mountains of the rivers 
Code and Belen, Eio de los Indios, and in their tribu- 
taries. The mine of San Antonio, in Code, is the 
best known ; but they hardly extract 40,000 dollars 
a year, the gold being deposited from inundations, and 
of good quality. But by far the most productive are 
the salt mines of this province, without reckoning the 
rich mines contained at the bottom of the sea, in the 
islands of the Pearl Archipelago, and other points of 
the coast, where it appears that the bed of the ocean 
is paved with the large shells of pearls annually col- 
lected by the divers inhabiting these islands. If they 
do not find pearls, they make a good profit by the 
shells, selling them for mother-of-pearl. They obtain 
annually more than a million of these shells. It 
appears that the pearl is produced in these marine 
mollusks accidentally, and not, as some think, by 
disease in the animal or the shell. It happens occa- 
sionally that the shell is pierced by some insect, when 
the animal, feeling the necessity of repairing the injury 
done to its habitation, accumulates in the perforated 
spot the calcareous matter which it secretes or tran- 
spires through its skin ; and the abundance of this 
matter produces the substance which is the real pearl. 
All shells have some holes in them, but only in those 
where the piercing has penetrated to the interior, 
where the animal lives, do they find pearls, larger or 
smaller, according to the time during which the 
secretion of the calcareous matter has been accumu- 
lating ; and if the perforating insects have pierced to 


the interior in two or three places, there will be found 
in formation, or formed, two or three pearls. 

'^ The first pearls seen by Vasco Nunez de Balboa 
were presented to him by the Cacque Famaco. The 
pearl-fishery has always been very dangerous on ac- 
count of the sharks, tintoreras, mantas, and guazas, to 
which the divers often fall victims. In the time of 
the Spaniards, slaves trained to diving were employed 
to find the pearls, and these slaves were obliged to 
dehver a certain number of pearls to their masters, 
reserving for their own profit all that were beyond the 
number ; being, however, obliged to sell such overplus 
to their employers. Now this dangerous branch of in- 
dustry is altogether free, for although the English have 
formed a contract excluding the inhabitants, nothing 
has come of it ; the machines sent out are only useful 
in getting the shells from the bottom of the ocean, 
but they cannot get into the cavities where the oysters 
are fastened to the rocks in such great numbers. The 
diver with his net, made in the shape of a bag, and 
fastening himself to a cord, the end of which he places 
in the hands of the rowers with a stone weight to 
make it drop more quickly, jumps over the side of the 
boat_, which contains usually from six to eight rowers 
with as many divers ; they remain under water from 
two to four minutes, sometimes even for longer. When 
his net is full of shells, the diver pulls the rope to 
which he is fastened, and by it is helped to rise ; but 
sometimes blood flows from his ears and nostrils. 

^^ In the province of Aznero, besides the abundant 


salt-mines, there are gold-mines in the mountains of the 
village of Las Fablas, and round that of Las Minas, 
which have not been explored. There are signs of 
iron and copper, and also occasionally of lime. 

^^ There are gold-mines in the province of Veragua. 
Those which have been examined because their pro- 
duce made it worth the trouble, are the mines of Vera- 
gua, where a population has established itself. Gold 
is also found in Sona and Lovaina, working only in 
the old mines, and many of these are entirely neglected 
as those at the head of the river San Maria, on the 
river Yirgina, and in the ruined San Juan, in the 
parish of Caiiaza, but all these mines do not now yield 
60,000 dollars. 

'' Mines of salt, copper, iron, gypsum, lime, and coal 
abound. In the districts of Santiago and Calobre there 
are hot springs. 

'*In the province of Chiriqui there are coal-mines near 
the Boca del Toro, and in the Golfo-Dulce. There are 
copper-mines near San Feles, and near the road going 
from Boca del Toro to David ; there are iron mines in 
the mountain of San Cristobal, and near this city some 
gold has been discovered near Gulaca and San Lorenzo, 
but of little importance. Hot springs are found at the 
sources of the river Changuinola to the north of Volcan, 
at the foot of the mountain Castillo, near the river 
Chiriqui, where the Yayes flows into it, in the plain of 
Mendez near the pass of Las Yegnas, in Pan de 
Azuca, and on the banks of the river Gallequi near 
San Feles. 


*^ Woods of repute for Building, especially Ship- 

"Timber of excellent kinds and enormous size is found 
in South Darien, and in great abundance also on all the 
mountains on the Pacific and Atlantic coast, and in 
the islands of both seas ; I will mention them by the 
names given to them in the Isthmus. 

^^ The cacique, superior to the diomate and the tama- 
risk in hardness and beauty ; the corotu and espane, 
good timber for ship -building, because insects do not 
pierce them ; caimito, nueso, macauo, the strawberry- 
tree, the small orange-tree, vala, and the laurel, all ex- 
cellent for building and polishing ; as also the mul- 
berry and lignum-vitse, which are imperishable. The 
medlar and the thorn, which give the best boards 
known ; the cocoa-tree, the orange and the apple trees, 
for house-building. The black, yellow, and variegated 
mahogany, rosewood, rose-tree, quir, coco-bobo, and 
the yellow oak, which is not subject to decay ; as also the 
other oak^ excellently adapted for ship-building. The 
olive-tree (jnanzanillo), of which the fruit or shade is so 
poisonous as to produce swelling, but of which the trunk 
is nevertheless good for building, as are also the jica- 
quilla, and the yellow thorn. For furniture there are 
the different kinds of cedar, called espina, seboUa, real, 
and papaya, all of which are entirely free from wood- 
lice. The amarillo of Gruayaquil does not rot, the 
carob-tree of Peru, the mountain yagua, the cork-tree, 
the chuchipate, and chachajo, most useful in building. 


'' The beams of durable wood employed for inlaid- 
work, as in ornamental furniture : the tanjaro, resem- 
bling mahogany ; the white and black fig, the soap-tree, 
the bark and leaves of which are used for soap ; the 
majagua, used by the Indians for making cables ; the 
the palo de lana, such as the ceiba or cotton-tree, which 
grows more than a hundred feet high, and from which 
excellent canoes are made ; the hobo, an enormous, 
strong and durable tree, quite opposed to the bongo 
and balso-trees of moderate bulk, very light and re- 
sembling cork, which are used for rafts. The yalla 
is very durable and imperishable. The mangroves, 
cavalero, pena, those growing by the sea, and Colorado ; 
this last kind is very durable, and used in ship-build- 
ing. The palo cucuba, much used in making mats and 
blankets. The gachapali and spruce, exceedingly good 
for masts. The murcielago, the hob de puerco, de cerco, 
barigon, beech, raton, carcuro, sibo, and terciopelo, all 
most useful in carpentering; as are also the mountain 
guava, the wild cherry, the papaw, pava, the mostrenca, 
and canaza, a kind of bamboo, which forms very leafy 

*^ Commerce. 

'' All the provinces of the Isthmus, and all their can- 
tons send their produce to Panama, as much by land 
as water, excepting Boca del Foro, the trade of which, 
consisting of more than two thousand tortoises annu- 
ally, and more than ^yq quintals of tortoise-shell, cocoa- 
oil, cocoa-nuts, sarsaparilla, resin, cedar, and fish, is 


carried on in the place itself, whither the purchasers 
repair, taking in exchange dried goods, liquors, and 
various other produce. 

^*^The villages of the province send to the capital 
meat, pigs, cattle, hogs, hens, eggs, rice, yucca, turkey, 
totumas, maize, plantains, loaves, lime, wool, coal, coffee, 
filings, raspaduras, oranges, beans, salt, horses, boards, 
fish, sarsaparilla, resin, wood for building, and pearl- 

'' The province of Yeragua sends to Panama herds of 
cows, hogs, horses, and mules ; hammocks, maize, rice, 
timber for building, and pearl-shells ; receiving in ex- 
change foreign manufactures and produce, and the salt 
of the country. 

'^ The province of Azuero sends to Yeragua earthen- 
ware, onions, and sweetmeats, and receives from it 
maize, rice, beans, pulse, and fat cattle ; these same 
articles are sent to Panama, as also fat hogs, goats, 
horses, and mules. 

The province of Chiriqui sends to Yeragua lean hogs 
to be fatted, and receives in exchange money and 
clothes ; the same thing occurs at Panama with shells, 
fish, planks, pigs, cattle, fowls, eggs, maize, skins, 
tortoise-shell, cedar, filings, beans, soap, candles_, cofiee, 
sarsaparilla (^zarsd), cocoa-nuts, and many other trifles 
which are sent to the villages, such as mats, saddles, 
rope, thread, deer-skins, brooms, &c. 

" The value of land in the Isthmus of Panama is 
necessarily increased by the existence of the railway 
there. A concession of Government lands is made to 

z 2 


the Panama Eailway Company, but it is expressly 
stipulated in that concession, that only one-half of the 
lands so conceded shall be selected from those adjoin- 
ing the railway. 

^' If any plan shall hereafter be carried out for the 
cutting a ship-canal through the Isthmus, it must 
still further improve the value of land there."* 

* Mr. J. D. Powles' remarks on Report, " New Granada," page 122. 

[ 341 ] 



One of the most flourishing departments of the State, 
and one which has perhaps the most natural resources 
combined with the most favom^able climate, is Chiriqui. 
A friend of mine, a Scotch physician, who had resided 
there for some years^ thus wrote of it in the latter 
end of 1854 : 

" It might he said, that since Columbus gave his 
name to Admiral's Bay, and saw for the first time the 
Lagoon of Chiriqui, the world had almost forgotten 
the fact. Like that part of the Isthmus styled then 
* Castilla del Oro,' all was absorbed in the golden blaze 
of the conquest of Peru, while now it requires no very 
prophetic eye to see that, after all, the Isthmus shall 
become to be of more use to the world at large than 
the golden treasures of the murdered Incas. 

" But, after aU, many will ask, where is Chiriqui ? Is 
it the land of the Cherokee Indians ? 

"By no means. Chiriqui is the ancient and modern 
name of one of the finest provinces which form the 


geographical Isthmus of Panama. The great Lagoon 
of Chiriqui, on the Atlantic, forms its northern border. 
Costa Rica and Golfo Dulce its western. The Pacific 
Ocean washes its southern coast, and the neighbouring 
province of Yeraguas bounds it on the east. A con- 
tinuation of the Cordilleras of the Andes, running 
from south-east to north-west, divides it into two un- 
equal portions, following rather the Atlantic side. 
The high, sharply-cut ridges, clothed with trees of 
never-ceasing verdure, bearing on their trunks parasitic 
forests of gigantic mosses and splendid orchidese, go on 
night and day condensing moisture, which in the deep 
ravines and valleys form on each side numerous rivers, 
running respectively to the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, 
both of which, in a clear day, can be seen from their 
crests by the adventurous traveller. The northern 
crest is characterised by forest and mountain spurs, 
while the Pacific side is no less so by extensive pasture- 
plains and gentle undulations. On a clear night, when 
the polar star just makes out to peep over the volcano 
of Chiriqui, and sees wheeling below it alternately the 
Eussian empire and the almighty republic, we stand 
on the bridge between North and South America, 
listening to the shouts of Europe and the sighs of 
Africa on our right, while lands of " barbaric pearl 
and gold " beckon to us on our left. 

" From a peculiar law in the distribution of gold, we 
find it to abound more on the northern and eastern 
slopes of the Cordilleras. Experience has exemplified 
this in the *' mineral de Yeragua," the Oural chain of 


mountains, and those gold-bearing ranges in Australia 
which extend from south to north. Under the Spanish 
Government the mineral region of Veragua gave gold 
abundantly, and afford strong proof in favour of the 
gold yielding celebrity of the mines of Tisinyal, which 
were situated on the Atlantic side of the Cordilleras, 
near the Chiriqui Lagoon. From the certainty of 
this, added to the fact of Flandin and Merrel having 
discovered veins of excelletit coal, it is to be hoped that 
Chiriqui and her Lagoon will be dragged out from 
among the forgotten corners of the earth, and be 
brought into the line of steamboat traffic and active 
industry. Mr. Flandin, in a late visit he made here to 
obtain a privilege to construct a road across, was very 
much pleased with the truly virgin freshness and tran- 
quillity of the Chiriqui landscape ; he saw how easily 
the necessities of life could be produced by very little 
labour, and sighed to think how many moral and in- 
dustrious famihes could be happy amid the smiling 
valleys that are as yet only pasture-grounds for a few 
cattle. The people repose in the hope that he will be 
enabled to interest the United States people and 
Government towards them^ and succeed in throwing 
the light of the age over their almost unknown valleys, 
rivers, lakes, and harbours. The province is divided 
into two divisions ; all the land on the Atlantic side of 
the Cordilleras constituting the canton of Bocas del 
Toro, and that on the Pacific being called the canton 
of Alange. David, the capital, is situated on a mag- 
nificent plain, about ten miles from the ocean, on the 


western bank of the river of the same name, in 
lat. 8° 23^ N., and long. 82° 21' W., according to the 
surveys of H. B. M. steamer the '' Herald." At 
distances of from three to four leagues lay the villages of 
Dolega, Gualaca, Boqueron, and Bugara, upon the same 
plain, which gradually rises until it is lost at the foot of 
the Cordilleras. Besides the plain, the two most promi- 
nent objects, as well as the blue mountains of the chain 
of the Andes, are two remarkable isolated mountains, the 
volcano of Chiriqui, some 11,000 feet high, to the north 
by west of David, and the table mountain of Chercha, 
over whose flat surface rises the sun in the east, with 
a very pretty waterfall of 300 feet, which at noon 
reflects back the sun's rays like a ribbon of polished 
silver, and which, along with the bearings of the 
volcano, serve the navigators as a landmark in making 
Boca Chica, the seaport of David. The distance to 
Panama is about 300 miles by sea, the trade being at 
present carried on in four or ^yq small schooners. The 
population of the town is about 5000, and number of 
houses 500, of which twelve are two-story houses, 
costing from 400 dollars to 600 dollars to construct ; 
and as a very active Italian has just succeeded in 
putting up a saw-mill, house-building will become 
more general and more satisfactory. Close to the 
town, Mr. James Agnew, a native of the United States, 
and the present governor of the province, has had a 
large coffee-plantation for many years back, yielding 
annually from two to three hundred quintals of coffee ; 
but he has been obliged to abandon it, and turn his 


attention more to cattle, owing to the great increase of 
wages for day labourers, while they work as little as 
possible, and eat as much as they can. At present all 
the produce that will pay has to be sent to Panama, 
but we still look forward to the completion of the road 
to Bocas del Toro, by which means a direct commu- 
nication being opened up with the United States and 
Europe, a great many natural productions now useless 
would be made valuable. For instance, we have 
abundance of the caoutchouc trees, a species of plant 
from which could be extracted fibres useful for ropes, 
clothing, and paper; four classes of endogenous, and 
five or more of exogenous trees, producing fine oils ; 
nine species of trees producing gums and balsams, and 
an immense variety of wood for construction and furni- 
ture. But above all, the great superiority of Chiriqui 
over almost any other country similarly situated, is 
its superior healthiness to European constitutions. 

^^ The principal produce of Chiriqui hitherto has been 
cattle, horses, and hogs, as is found to be the case in the 
plains wherever inhabited by Spanish South Americans 
— these branches of industry being most suitable for 
an indolent life and a warm climate. Since the Cali- 
fornia excitement in Panama, the production of grain 
has augmented. Formerly the cattle were killed, dried, 
and sent off to the mines in Choco ; and hence there 
were a considerable number of hides exported, which 
has in a great measure ceased, as the cattle are driven 
on foot to Panama. The exports may be calculated as 
follows : 



Live Stock. 

No. in the Annual Average Prices 
Province. Increase. in the Province. 

No. Ex- 

Value of 
Selling Price 
in Panama. 

Cattle . . 

109,000 15 

perct. $10 to ^15 



Horses . . 


do. do. 

' — 


Hogs . . 


— 10 to 20 







'No. of Quintals No. Ex- Provincial 
Produced. ported. Value. 

Sold in 

Indian Corn . 15,000 

10,000 $2iperq'l 


Kice . 

.' . 2,500 

5,000 3 


|1 5,000 

*' Chickens, turkeys, beans, &c., are excepted ; horses 
are not now sent to Panama. Boards, also, are oc- 
casionally exported; with well placed saw-mills the 
whole Pacific could be supplied. The soil is admirably 
adapted for sugar and tobacco. The former, brought 
from Panama, is selling here at 40 cents a pound, the 
quantity of raw sugar and molasses made by the im- 
perfect machines of the country not being even enough 
to supply domestic consumption and the distilleries of 
spirits. Very common tobacco, even Yirginia, sells 
at 40 cents a pound. Children from four years 
and upwards know how to smoke, nor do young ladies 
think their charms lessened by openly indulging in the 
" filthy weed," which powerfully assists them in the 
dolce far niente, tempering at once the arrows of the 
sun and the imagination. 

" The people voting under the new constitution, have 
elected Mr. Agnew, a native-born American, to be 
Governor, but many years a resident in the province 
— showing at once their liberal feelings and desire to 
be governed by a man who had the good luck to be 



born in tlie most go-ahead nation in the world ; a fact 
that cannot fail to inspire confidence in any one who 
would by his capital or industry, be inclined to ' come 
over and help us.' Neither revolutions nor cholera- 
morbus have as yet visited Chiriqui, nor any epidemic, 
save smallpox now and then. The only thing that is 
likely to trouble the tranquillity of our tranquil citizens 
is the long vexed question of limits between us and 
Costa Eica. The latter, impelled by French and 
Enghsh company influence, demand a boundary line 
which would take away one-half of the province, and 
sadly disfigure the integrity of the Isthmus. The 
people are averse to unite with Costa Rica, were it 
possible ', for having obtained free ports, freedom from 
tithes and custom-houses, they do not wish again the 
same yoke, besides^ having a natural love of peace, and 
aversion to civil wars, so common in the neighbouring 
republics. The Isthmus, for her future destiny, re- 
quires the fine harbour of Golfo Dulce, but, never- 
theless, is willing to halve it with Costa Rica. The 
line insisted on by us is that of the law of the 20th 
of November, 1803, given by the King of Spain to 
the vice-royalty of New Granada, giving her juris- 
diction along the coast as far as Cape Gracias a Dios. 
Abandoning this mere sea-coast line, we take that 
which afiects the Terra Firma, viz., from the centre of 
Golfo Dulce to Punta Careta. We hope the United 
States w^ill see justice done in all such questions 
between the American families, Avithout bias of fear or 
favour from European politics. The people only desire 



peace, liberty, and order, and feel that their union with 
Bogota brings them no substantial good, but that the 
aimless revolutions which every now and then take 
place in the capitals, throw upon them the necessity of 
paying forced loans, &c., retard the progress of the 
Isthmus, endanger the peace and morality of its 
people, by party feeling embittered by civil war and 
bloodshed, at the head of the republic. " Which is 
better," already whispers rumour, " annexation or in- 
dependence ?" ^^E. M. D. 

" David, Nov. 20, 1854. 

" P.S. — Since writing the above, the following list of 
articles exported by land and sea has been furnished 
me from the Government office, with the value in New 
Granadian money, when sold in the province : — 

Articles Epxorted feom the Province of Chiriqui 
IN THE year 1853. 

7500 hogs, average price $ 10 

120,000 quintals of rice, at $4 

12,000 quintals of Indian corn, at $2 04 

10,000 fowls, at |5 per doz. 

4500 cattle, at |12 

*300 quintals of sarsaparilla, at |30 

300 logs of nispero-wood, at $5 . 

Pearls of all sizes .... 

200,000 pearl shells, at $3 per 1,000 

500 doz. of cedar planks, at $10 . 

Eaw sugar 

70 quintals of native tobaceo, at $16 
30,000 cedron-beans, at |1 per 100 
500 turkeys, at $2 each 
1 quintal of vanilla 
800 gallons cocoa-nut oil 

















Total $234,186" 

The principal part of tlie sar«aparilla was carried over to Bocas del Toro. 


A year or two ago a large quantity of curiosities 
of Indian workmanship, in gold and earthenware, 
were found in the supposed graves of the Indians, at 
Chiriqui. These are, doubtless, similar ornaments to 
those seen by Columbus on his voyage to Terra Firma, 
and many of them have, perhaps, remained upwards of 
300 years under the earth. Some of the gold orna- 
ments recently found were beautiful specimens of 
Indian workmanship, and many were of pure gold; 
others were of a mixture of gold and copper. Figures 
of birds, lizards, lions, &c., in size and weight varying 
from a quarter ounce to two ounces were most common. 
There were also plates and vessels of a larger size of 
the alloyed metal. Of the earthenware were formed 
incense-burners, water-coolers, &c. 

These curiosities are still discovered from time to 
time, and brought to Panama for sale. Those of gold 
generally meet with no better fate than that of being 
melted up and sold for their weight. 

Captain Pim, referring to the various canal schemes 
of the Isthmus, says of Chiriqui : '' The next point 
of interest as regards canalization, is Chiriqui Lagoon, 
lat. 9°8^K, long. Sr 57'W." 

This port, or rather series of ports, is beyond doubt 
one of the finest and most capacious harbours in the 
world ; it may fairly be compared with Eio de Janeiro. 
From Chiriqui it has been proposed to construct a 
canal to the river David, which empties itself into 
the Pacific, and this route has met with warm advo- 
cates; but, unfortunately, David does not afibrd any 


port at its mouth, and would require a considerable 
outlay before it could offer the commonest facilities as 
an " entrepot." 

David lies in lat. 8° 23' N., long. 82° 27' W., on the 
left bank of the river of the same name, in a beautiful 
plain, and is surrounded by the villages of Gualaca, 
Dolega, Boqueron, and Bugaba, and by mountains of 
considerable elevation. On the south-west rises the 
volcano of Chiriqui, a peak 7000 feet high ; on the 
north the Galera de Chorcha, a flat table mountain, 
v^hich, as the first part of its name indicates, has some 
resemblance to a gallery or corridor ; from the top a 
waterfall descends over high blocks of granite several 
hundred feet in depth. 

During the wet season, when great quantities of 
water are discharged, it is very conspicuous, resembling 
from a distance a stream of silver, and serving navi- 
gators as a landmark in making Boca Chica, the sea- 
port of David. 

David has about six hundred houses, built of wood 
and clay, and generally one story high, and, being all 
whitewashed^ they form several neat-looking streets. 
There is only one church, which stands in the centre 
of the public square, where also the Grovernment 
offices are situated. The town contained, in 1843, ac- 
cording to official statements, 4321 inhabitants. Their 
number is, however, 3^early augmented by immigration. 
Several French, Italians, and North Americans have 
settled there, and it is principally owing to their 
exertions that David has risen within the last fifteen 


years from a paltry hamlet to a prosperous town. 
Though the Davidenians are mostly a mixed race, the 
number of the whites is considerable. Their employ- 
ment consists in breeding cattle, agriculture, and 
commerce. The exports of the place are rice, coffee, 
sarsaparilla, pearls, hides, turtle-shells, dried meat, and 
some gold-dust. Several other natural productions 
might be advantageously shipped. The corpachi 
(Croton eluteria, Swartz), the bark of which is used in 
the country against toothache, and is also of commercial 
value, grows plentifully in the forests. The quira 
{Platymiscium ijolystacliyum^ Benth), is found in 
abundance in the neighbourhood; and the saumerio 
{Styrax punctatum, De Cand.) which produces an odori- 
ferous balsam, a substitute for frankincense in Veraguas, 
is seen in extensive groves in the adjacent mountains. 
At present, all the produce has to be carried to Panama, 
but when a road to Bocas del Toro has been completed, 
and a direct communication with North America esta- 
blished, many productions which are not worth sending 
will be exported with advantage.* 

" The climate of David, if compared with that of the 
other parts of the Isthmus, is particularly healthy. 
Longevity is common ; few of the cutaneous eruptions 
so common in other districts of the Isthmus are ex- 
perienced ; the common fever of the country being 
the predominant disease, and even this malady is only 
prevalent during the change of season. The climate 

* " The prospectus of a company desirous of making this road was issued 
in London some years back ; but the undertaking fell to the ground." 


is annually improving ; if we may believe the tradition 
of the country, the rainy season a hundred years ago 
was most violent, making it necessary to navigate from 
house to house in canoes. 

'' The intervening land is of gradual ascent, but the 
central ridge is of such a height as to render cutting 
or tunnelling in that vicinity for a canal, a very 
questionable proceeding. 

^^ Mr. Hellert examined the route, and found it to 
present the most formidable obstacles ; the localit}^ 
however, promises many and great advantages, so 
much so, indeed, that the Federal Government have 
fixed upon it as the best place for the deportation of 
their surplus coloured population,* and it will not be at 
all surprising if this act eventually leads to the forma- 
tion of a rail or tramw^ay from sea to sea. Mr. 
Wheelwright found coal of tolerable quantity in the 
vicinity, and the entire line of country, unlike Panama, 
offers every inducement for colonization. There is 
one great objection to the construction of a railway, 
and that is, that the republic of New Granada, of 
which this is a part, has given the exclusive right of 
transit through its territories to the Panama Eailway 
Company ; but it is not a trifle, as we all know, 
which will deter the Federal Government, if it set its 
heart upon an object. "f 

* This was before the employment of the blacks as soldiers, and before 
they were thinned by the war. We have heard nothing of the scheme 

t " The Gate of the Pacific." 

[ 353 ] 


Communications with the Isthmus— Distances, Fares, and Ffeights. 

The reader or traveller will, probably, by this time^ 
have bad enough of Panama ; so having conveyed him 
thus far on his journey, perhaps to a better place, my 
next duty is to show him how he may leave Panama. 
We have seen that there are no less than twenty 
opportunities monthly of sailing — -or rather steaming 
— away from the Isthmus, and by one of these means 
he may go in almost any direction. 

1st. The Eoyal Mail Steam-Packet Company's 
steamers leave Colon for Southampton on the 5th (or 
6th, when the previous month has only thirty days) 
and 21st of each month. These steamers touch, on 
the voyage to Southampton, at Jamaica, Jacmel, and 
St. Thomas, in the West Indies* On the arrival at 
St. Thomas, other steamers belonging to the company 
are ready to convey the passengers transferred to them 
to St. Kitts, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Mar- 
tinique, St. Lucia, Barbadoes, Demarara, St. Vincent, 
Grenada, Trinidad, and Tobago. 

Communication to Porto Rico, Havana, Vera Cruz, 

2 A 


and Tampico also takes place by the steamer which 
leaves Colon on the r)th (or Gth; of tlie month, and 
by which passengers for New Orleans can be booked 
as far as Havana. 

A monthly service, for the conveyance of mails, 
passengers, &c., is also established by this com- 
pany's steamers between Colon, Carthagena, and Santa 
Martha, and between those places and Grey Town, 
connecting at Colon with the steamers to Southampton 
and intermediate branch ports. The steamers of this 
line arrive at Colon from Europe on the night of the 
7th (or 8th) and 28rd of each month. 

2nd. The Pacific Steam Navigation Company's 
steamers, for the various ports in Ecuador, Peru, 
Bolivia, and Chili, leave Panama on the 9th (or 10th) 
and 25th of each month, touching at the following 
named places : — 

Guayaquil, Tumbes, Paita, Lambayeque, Pacas- 
mayo, Malabrigo, Huanchaco, Santa Samanco, Casma 
Huarmey, Supe, Huacho, Callao, Tambo Mora, Pisco, 
the Chincha Islands, Chala, Quilca^ Islai/, Arica, Pisa- 
gua, Mejillones, Iquique^ Tocopilla, Cohija, Taltal, 
Chaiiaral, C alder a, Carrizal Bajo, Huasco, Coquimho, 
Tongoy, Valparaiso, Tome, Talcahuano, Coronel, Lota, 
Corral, Yaldivia, Aucud, Calbuco, Puerto Montt.* 

* The connections with the places not in italics are made by branch or 
intermediate steamers. 


35 { 

The Working of the Atlantic and Pacific British Mail 
Services is as under : — 







TPvANSIT, &c. 


from , 



at ^ 





Transit, &c. 




Ttli & 23rd. 

2 days. 

9tli & 25tli. 

4th & 20tli. 

2 daj^s. 

6th & 22Tid. 

3rd. Steamers of this line also leave Panama on the 
12tli and 2.2nd of each month for the Pacific ports of 
the United States of Colombia and Ecuador, calling at 
Buenaventura, Tumaco, Esmeraldas, Manta, and Bal- 
lenita. The steamers from Peru, Chili, &c., arrive at 
Panama on the 4th or 5th and 20th of the month, 
and those from the coast of Colombia and Ecuador on 
the 8th or 9th and 17th. 

4th. The Pacific Mail Steam-Ship Company's 
steamers between Panama and San Francisco, sail 
from Panama about the 2nd, 12th, and 22nd of each 
month, calling at Acapulco and Manzanillo on the 
Mexican coast, and connecting at San Francisco with 
vessels proceeding to Oregon, Washington Territory, 
Vancouver, and British Columbia. 

These steamers are due at Panama from the above- 
named places on the 5th or 6th, 16th and 26th of 
each month. 

5th. The Atlantic Mail Line of American steamers 
leaves Colon for New York on or about the 5th or 6th, 
16th and 26th of the month, or rather on the arrival 


of the passengers from San Francisco, and should 
arrive at Colon on the morning of the 1st or 2nd, 
12th and 22nd of each month. 

It is by the vessels of this line that passengers 
desiring to return to Europe, by way of the United 
States, must proceed, except at the occasional times of 
an opposition line. 

6th. The West India and Pacific Steam-Ship Com- 
pany's steamers leave Colon on the 1st and 15th of 
the month for Liverpool, those of the 15th calling at 
Santa Martha and Havana, and connecting at Havana 
with steamers for Mexico, and those of the 1st 
calling at Santa Martha, Kingston, and Port-au- 
Prince. These steamers arrive at Colon on the 7th 
and 23rd of the month. 

7th. The Panama Eailroad Company's steamers for 
Central America leave Panama on the 10th and 25th 
of each month, calling at Puna Arenas, Eealejo, La 
Union, La Libertadad, Acajutla, and San Jose de 
Guatemala. These steamers arrive at Panama from 
Central America on the 1st and 15th of the 

8th. In addition to the above, there is at present an 
opposition line of steamers to San Francisco once a 
month ; and 

9th. Also a corresponding communication to and 
from New York. 

But these opposition lines were only transferred to 
the Isthmus from Grey Town and San Juan del Sur 
Nicaragua late in the year 1863, and may at any time 


be removed again to the ports of the Nicaragua transit 

In addition to the steamers named above, about 
twenty-five sailing vessels, coal-ships, and small coast- 
ing craft enter the port of Panama annually, while 
those entering Colon are about 150. From Colon 
there is a regular line of sailing-ships to and from 
Bordeaux. The Panama Eailway Company, too, have 
established a line of sailing-packets between New 
York and Colon, for the conveyance of merchandise to 
and from the Isthmus. It is said that these vessels 
are now quite insufficient for this trade, and that a 
new line of American steamers is shortly to be esta- 
blished between these ports. " For such a line of 
steamers," says the "Panama Star and Herald," 
" there never was a better opening, and its initiation 
will be hailed with delight by every merchant on the 
Isthmus and on the coast. For years past the 
steamers Jfrom New York have been so overloaded 
with San Francisco freight and passengers, that 
shippers of merchandise for the Isthmus have had no 
showing whatever at the enormous rate of fifty cents 
per foot, and they are almost invariably obliged to fall 
back on the sailing vessels of the Panama Railway 
Company's line, which are so crowded with through 
freight for other ports, that the agents of Aspinwall 
and Panama shippers have to look sharp to find a 
place for their goods on board. Both out and home 
these vessels are, we may say, universally obliged to 
refuse freight," 

2 B 



Panama is now distant in time and by steam from- 


England, per Royal Mail Steam Packet Company's Steamer . 20 
„ per Liverpool steamers, including stojjpages . 25 to 30 

. 9 

From New York 

„ San Francisco, including stoppages 
„ Callao, Port of Lima, Peru, ditto 
„ Valparaiso, Chili, ditto 
„ Guatemala, Central America, ditto 



But the actual distances are about the following : — 


From Southampton via St. Thomas .... 4,720 

„ New York 1,990 

„ New Orleans 1,530 

„ Key West, Florida 1,020 

„ Havana, Cuba 970 

„ Carthagena, United States Colombia . . . 280 

„ Grey Town, Nicaragua 240 

„ Kingston, Jamaica 540 

„ Guayaquil, Ecuador 835 

„ Callao, Peru 1,445 

„ Tahiti, Society Islands 3,420 

„ Valparaiso, Chili 2,900 

„ Sydney via Tahiti 7,950 

„ Honolulu, Sandwich Islands 3,700 

„ Acapulco, Mexico 1,400 

„ San Francisco 3,250 

The following rates are now established for passages 
and freight by steam-vessels from Panama to the 
undermentioned places in the Pacific : — 



Rate of freight 


1st Class. 

2nd Class. 

per ton. 




San Francisco, California . . 

. 175 


50 to 60 

Buenaventura, U. S. Colombia . 

. 50 



Tumaco, „ 

. 60 



Esmeraldas, Ecuador 

. 70 



Manta „ 

. 80 



Ballenita „ 

. 82 



* Deck 






Rate of freight 


1st Class. 

2nd Class. 

per ton. 




Guayaquil „ . . 

. 105 



Paita, Peru . 

. 115 



Lambayaque „ . 

. 130 



Huancbaco „ . . . 

. 130 



Callao „ . . . 

. 160 



Islas de Chincha, Pisco, and Peru 

. 175 



Chala „ . . . 

. 205 



Quilca „ . . . 

. 220 



Islay „ . . . 

. 220 



Ilo „ . . 

. 230 



Arica „ . . . 

. 230 



Pisagua „ . 

. 245 



Mejillones „ . 

. 245 



Iquique „ . 

. 245 


35 ^ 

Tocopilla, Bolivia . 

. 255 



Cobija „ . . . 

. 255 



Chanaral, Chili 

. 265 



Caldera „ 

. 265 



Carrizal Bajo „ 

. 270 



Huasco „ . . . 

. 270 



Coguimbo „ . . . 

. 275 



Tongoy „ . . . 

. 280 



Valparaiso „ 

. 290 



Punta Arenas, Central America 

. 50 



Realejo „ 

. 65 



La Union „ 

. 70 



La Libertad „ 

. 75 



Acajutla „ 

. 80 



San Jos^ „ 

. 85 



Acapulco, Mexico . 

. 87-50 

37 25 to 30 

Having thus accompanied the reader to Panama, 
and shown him or her how to leave it, my occupation 
is gone. To those who have to visit the Isthmus, I 
wish a prosperous voyage and a pleasant sojourn. To 
those, in my opinion more fortunate, who may study 
the country by their own firesides, I offer my warmer 
congratulations. Perhaps there is no surer method of 

2 B 2 


creating for oneself a really happy hour than by 
recalling to recollection those hours of real happiness 
which are gone by, but which, by virtue of the joy or 
pleasure they have once caused us, are deeply engraven 
on our memory, and which, like old port, a good story, 
or one of " Punch's " happy hits, nothing lose by age ; 
and so, indeed, the very recollection of what one has 
once enjoyed is a never-failing source of interest, if not 
of renewed enjoyment. What pleasure even to girls 
at a ball is equal to that of sitting over a cheerful fire 
on their return home, and chatting about their own 
doings and their friends' doings at the ball? And 
what pleasure to the traveller or hunter is generally 
equal to that of going over the ground again with 
one's fellow-traveller and friends on his return home. 
But he who visits the Isthmus of Panama must not 
aspire to great enjoyment, intellectual or physical, 
present or future. The attractions of the place to 
the visitor or traveller are few indeed, and, as has been 
observed by the writer of an article from which I have 
made several quotations, " Panama is to the world in 
general a part only of the road leading to more genial 

* " Panama as a Home." 



By virtue of a National Law of 31st July, 1863, the President 
of the Eepublic has emitted a decree, dated 14th August of 
last year, in which the following dispositions and provisions 
are set forth : — 

The public lands and the produce of the national forests are 
dedicated to the payment of the interest, and the funding of the 
national debt. 

An administrator shall be appointed in each State, whose 
duties shall be : To collect the dues established in the decree for 
the exploration of the lands and forests ; to propose to the 
President of the State the formation of an Inspecting Com- 
mission for the purpose of developing all substances adapted to 
medical uses. In the absence of such a Commission the Ad- 
ministrator shall himself perform the duties of the Commission ; 
procuring evidence from parties competent in medicinal, botani- 
cal, and commercial matters ; defining rules by which the extrac- 
tion of medical substances can be performed in the best and 
most profitable manner, and without injury to the plants which 
yield the substances ; to issue licences for the exploration of 
national lands and forests, and to attend to the inspection of the 
substances extracted, with the object of securing the articles in 
the most creditable and marketable state. 

The President of the State to prohibit by decree the extrac- 


tion of quina, indiarubber, balsam, and other gums, vegetable 
ivory, cabinet and dye-woods, building-timber, &c., except by 
licence from the Administrator; and to publish the dues 
collectable for such extraction. 

By the decree all such articles extracted from the national 
lands and forests shall pay the same dues if destined for use in 
the country as if for exportation. The dues must be paid in 
coin at the time the exportation is effected. 

Quina bark, indiarubber, balsam, and other useful materials 
extracted from private lands and forests cannot be exported 
without previously producing — 

1st. Certificate of legal title to the land from which the 
commodities are extracted. This certificate must be issued by 
the municipality within whose jurisdiction the lands and forests 
are comprised. The date of the title, the name of the pro- 
prietor, the name of the property or lands, and the kind of 
substance extracted must be described in the certificate. 

2nd. The names of the labourers engaged on the property or 
lands from which the articles are extracted; who may be 
examined by the Administrator of Lands and Forests, or by the 
municipality which issue the certificate. 

3rd. The attestation of the same municipality, exhibiting the 
results of the examination of the labourers. 

These requisitions must be complied with strictly, without 
embarassing the export trade. 

Quina bark and indiarubber from the Pacific coast of the 
republic to Panama must be accompanied by a document to be 
presented at the ofi&ce of the railroad, proving payment of the 
export dues in the Cauca or in the State of Panama. 

On the 11th of January last, the President of the State 
decreed : — 

1st. That the prefects, or their agents, at once proceed to 
describe the lands belonging to the nation. 

2nd. That they, excepting the Prefect of the Department of 
Panamd, appoint three citizens to form the Inspecting Com- 


3rd. That tliey shall issue the licence for extracting the 
products of the national lands. 

4th. All persons extracting substances from the national 
lands without a licence, shall be tried and punished as de- 
frauders of the public revenue. 

5th. Dues for extracting quina-bark are fixed at 4c. per 

6th. Dues are fixed for extracting indiarubber at 3c. per 
kilogram. ; cabinet woods at 20c. per 100 kilogs. ; dye-woods at 
Ic. per kilog. ; balsam, resin, and other gums, 2c. per kilog. ; 
ivory-nuts, Ic. per kilog. ; sarsaparilla, 2c. per kilog. ; mangle 
and other 3-in. scantling, 20c. per dozen ; ditto 4-in. and 6-in. 
scantling, SOc. per dozen ; mahogany boards, cedar, and other 
common planks, 60c. per dozen ; common cedar and other ordi- 
nary boards, 40c. per dozen ; nisberry and other large beams, 
20c. each. 

Art. 8th. The captains, masters, mates, owners or consignees 
of vessels arriving at this port or at Colon from any part of this 
State or the Eepublic must make a sworn declaration to the 
Administrator of National Lands and Forests, in this city, and 
to the Administrator of Eents in the Department of Colon, 
advising the articles named in the decree, if brought by the 
vessels, in order that the dues may be collected, if not paid 

9th. Those who fail to comply with article 8th will be 
fined in a sum not over double the amount of the dues payable, 
besides paying the dues, and to be held amenable to law as 
defrauders of the national revenue. 

Such is a brief sketch of the decrees which govern the 
extraction of the natural productions of the lands and forests 
belonging to the Eepublic. 


(Translated for the Author.) 




Article 1st. The Sovereign State of Panamd is composed of 
the Colombians established in the territory, and of the teritory 
which formed the provinces of the Isthmus of Panama, namely, 
Panama Azuero, Veraguas, and Chiriqui, w^hen the Constitu- 
tional Act of the 27th of February, of 1855, created the State. 



Article 2nd. The State acknov^ledges and guarantees to all 
the inhabitants and transient persons : 

1st. The non-infliction of pain of death, nor of corporal 
punishment exceediDg ten years. No cruel punishments shall 
be imposed in the State, nor shall torture be resorted to. 

2nd. Individual liberty, which has no other limit than the 
liberty of another individual ; that is to say, it guarantees the 
faculty of doing or omitting all that which, being done or 
omitted, causes no injury to another indivinual, nor to the com- 
munity. Consequently no one shall be judged in the State for 

3rd. Personal security ; so that it may not be attacked with 
impunity by another individual nor by public authority ; nor 


shall the inhabitants nor transient persons be imprisoned, 
arrested, nor detained but for criminal motive or correctional 
punishment; nor judged by extraordinary committees or tri- 
bunals; nor sentenced without having been heard and found 
guilty in virtue of pre-existing laws. Consequently in the 
State there shall be no imprisonment for debt. 

4th. The right of not being detained for more than twelve 
hours without the delivery (to be detained) of a copy of the 
order of detention expressing the motive for it. 

oth. Property; no one shall be deprived of it but for a 
penalty, or for a general tax a(;cording to law; or when, for 
some grave reason of public necessity, it may be judicially 
disposed of according to law with previous indemnification. 

Are not subject to disposession : 1. Eights and claims against 
the rise or against private individuals. 2. Movables or im- 
movables, the special use of which is not needed for a deter- 
minate public service. 3. The property of one or more 
individuals exclusively, when it may be possible to extend the 
dispossession to others by which the charge may be made more 

AVhat is directed in this paragraph does not authorize the 
infliction of penalty of confiscation in any case whatever. 

6th. The impost shall be proportionate to the wealth which 
the impost-payer may possess in the State. 

7 th. The liberty to express (their) thoughts by word or 
writing without any restraint, and to circulate printed matter, 
both national and foreign, in conformity with the absolute 
liberty of the press. 

8th. The liberty to travel in the territory of the State, and 
to leave it without passport or permission from any authority 
whatever in time of peace; not, however, when the individual 
has given sureties to appear, or his capture has been decreed 
by competent authority according to law, nor when the indi- 
vidual is not in the enjoyment of personal liberty through 
penalty legally imposed. 

Oth. The liberty to practise all occupations, and to labour^ 


without usurping the occupations of another, the property of 
which may have been temporarily guaranteed by the laws to 
the authors of useful inventions; nor those which may have 
been reserved by the Union or by the State as financial means ; 
and without embarrassing the public ways, nor attacking 
security, nor salubrity, nor morality. 

10th. The liberty to give or to receive the instruction which 
they may deem proper in the establishments that are not paid 
out of public funds. 

11th. Gratuitous primary instruction. 

12th. The liberty to assemble without arms, and to possess 
arms and ammunition, and to trade in them in time of peace. 

1 3th. The right of not being recruited against their will for 
armed service in time of peace. 

14th. The inviolability of domicile and of private writings ; 
so that the one cannot be forcibly entered into, nor the others 
intercepted or examined, but by competent authority, for the 
effect and with the formalities determined by law. 

15th. Equality; and consequently it is not licit to grant 
privileges nor legal distinctions which may redound to the pure 
favour or benefit of the favoured persons ; nor to impose special 
obligations, which may render those subject to them of a con- 
dition inferior to others. 

16th. The right to obtain a prompt and timely resolution to 
the petitions which they may address in writing, and with legal 
formalities, to corporations, authorities, or public functionaries, 
on any matter of public or private interest. 

17th. The right to accuse public functionaries, and to obtain 
from them copies, according to law, of the documents in their 
offices on which the accusation may be intended against them. 

18th. The trial by jury in criminal matters, with the excep- 
tion of such political acts as may make placemen and public 
functionaries responsible for their official conduct ; and of the 
punishable acts, the trial of which may be attributed by law to 
the district judges. 

19th. The free profession, either public or private, of any reli- 


gion ; but in the exercise of it no acts will be permitted which 
the law has previously qualified as criminal, or which may tend 
to disturb the public peace, or which may be incompatible with 
the sovereignty of the nation, or that of the State. The 
Government of the State will exercise the right of guardianship 
over religious corporations and their ministers, adheting to 
what is decreed in the 2ord Article of the National Constitution. 

Art. 3rd. In case of war, or of a disturbance of public order 
in the State, dispossession may be effected by other than the 
judicial authorities, and without previous indemnification, and 
sufficient force may be raised to re-establish the peace. 

Art. 4th. The Executive Power of the State charged with the 
maintenance of the public peace, and with the re- establishment 
of it when it may have been disturbed, shall employ the means 
mentioned in the preceding article ; but for that it is necessary 
that the State be previously declared at war, or that public order 
has been disturbed. This declaration must be made by a 
council composed of the President of the State, of the President 
of the Assembly, of the President of the Supreme Jury, of the 
President of the Court, and of the Attorney-General. In the 
absence of the Presidents of the Assembl}^, or of the Supreme 
Jury, the respective Vice-Presidents shall be called. The 
declaration mentioned shall be of force during sixty days, a new 
declaration being indispensable to prolong the time. 

Art. oth. When, for any motive, the totality of the members 
of the council mentioned in the preceding article may not be 
able to assemble, it shall be composed of the majority of its 
members. The Secretary of Government shall be the Secretary 
of the Council. 



Art. 6th. The duties of the inhabitants of the State are : 
1st. To live subject to the constitution and to the laws, and 
to respect, to obey, and to sustain the established authorities. 


2nd. To contribute towards the pubHc expenditure. 

3rd. To serve and to defend the State in the cases prescribed 
by law. The ministers of any worship aie exempted from 
military service. 

Art. 7th. Foreigners in the State shall enjoy the same civil 
rights as the members of the State, being subject to the laws 
and authorities of the State, and without more prerogatives or 
civil rights than the national individuals. 



Art. 8th. The citizenship consists : 

1st. In the right of election, when the constitution or the law 
confers by popular vote any employment of those which consti- 
tute the Government. 

2nd. In the capacity to be elected to the same employments. 

Article 9th. Citizens electing are : The Colombians residing 
in the State, males, and above twenty-one years of age, or under 
it, if they be, or have been married, or have obtained a licence to 
manage their own estates. 

Art. 10th. Citizens eligible are: The Colombians residing in 
the State, male, and above twenty-one years of age, or under it, 
if they be, or have been married, or have obtained a licence to 
manage their own estates. 

Art. 1 1th. No minister of any worship has a right to elect, nor 
can he be elected to public employment. 

Art. 12th. Citizenship is lost in no case whatever, but it is 
suspended from those who are suflering coiporal punishment in 
virtue of judicial sentence as determined by law, and those also 
who are under guardians. 

Art. 13th. The right of election is suspended from those legally 
in prison, or absent from the territory of the State, or are in- 
capable of concurring to give their vote. 



citizens' rights. 

Art. 14tli. The citizens have a right to vote : 

1. For the Senators, Plenipotentiary, and Eepresentatives to 
the National Congress. 

2. For the President of the United States of Colombia. 

3. For the Magistrates of the Supreme Federal Court. 

4. For the Deputies to the Legislative Assembly of the State. 

5. For the President of the State. 

6. For the Court Magistrates and the Attorney-General. 

7. For the members of the Municipal Corporations of their 

8. For the Prefects, Judges, and Attorneys of their respective 
departments; and 

9. For all the other functionaries whose election may be 
attributed to them by law. 



Art. 15th. The limits of the territory of the State are: With 
the Sovereign State of the Cauca, those determined by the 
President of New Granada, Citizen General Tomas Cipriano de 
Mosquera, in the decree of the 7th of August of 1847, inserted 
in the " Gaceta de la Nueva Granada," on the 12th day of the 
same month. No. 902, namely, the Eiver Atrato, from its mouth 
upwards, to its confluence with the Napipi, thence following 
upwards the course of the Napipi to its source, and thence by a 
straight line to the Bay of Cupica in the Pacific. With the 
Kepublic of Costa Eica, the national ones between the United 
States of Colombia and Costa Eica. 

Art. 1 6th. The territory of the State cannot be increased nor 
diminished without the consent of the Assembly of the State. 


Art. 17th. The territory of the State is divided : 

For electoral effects, in circles. 

For political and judicial administration, in departments, and 
these in districts. The divisions here mentioned, and the neces- 
sary subdivisions, will be determined by the law. 

Art. 18th. Bocas del Toro, Darien, and Tilas del Archipelago 
territories may have a special organization. 



Art. 19th. For each department there shall be a Prefect, 
elected by the people. 

Art. 20th. The Prefect in his department is the immedaite 
agent of the President of the State, and as such he is to obey the 
President's constitutional and legal orders, and to make them 
obeyed by all his subordinates. 

Art. 21st. The attributes of the Prefect are : 

1. To obey, to execute, and to make others execute the con- 
stitution and the laws of the State, aiid the judicial sentences, 
provisional judgments, and peremptory orders issued by the 
public functionaries who constitutionally or legally may exercise 

2. To make the public functionaries of the department fulfil 
their duties completely ; and 

3. To exercise the other functions which may be prescribed by 



Art. 22nd. In each district there shall be an "Alcalde," 
charged of its political administration with the functions which 
the law may attribute to him. 

Art. 23rd. Every district has the right to administer its own 


affairs, througli a corporation elected annually, according to the 
rules established by law. 

Art. 24tb. The law creates or abolishes the districts, changes 
their limits, establishes rules for their administration, and 
delegates to them all necessary faculties. 

Art. 25th. No district can be created or abolished without the 
votes of two-thirds of the Deputies present at the sitting in each 
and every debate of the proposed new law. 



Art. 26th. The Government of the State is popular, elective, 
alternative, representative, and responsible; and the public 
power is divided for its administration into elective, legislative, 
executive, and judicial. 

Art. 27th. No person can simultaneously exercise employments 
corresponding to two or more of the legislative, executive, and 
judicial powers. 

Art. 28th. All matters which may be an object of legislation 
or of government, and which have not been delegated to the 
general Government by the national constitution, pertain to the 
State without dependence or subordination to any other power. 



Art. 29th. The elective power is exercised by the citizens of 
the State, and by the corporations charged of the nomination, oi 
the collection and registry of votes, and of the declaration of the 
election according to the constitution and the law. 




Art. 30th. The legislative power is placed in, and is exercised 
by a Corporation denominated Legislative Assembly. 

Art. 31st. The Legislative Assembly shall be composed of 
Deputies elected by the people in every electoral circle, at the 
rate of one for every five thousand inhabitants, and one more for 
a remainder of not less than two thousand five hundred; but 
although the population of a circle may not amount to five 
thousand inhabitants, it shall still elect one Deputy. 

Art. 32nd. The President, the Court Magistrates, the Attorney- 
General, the Auditor of Public Accounts, and the Administrator 
of the Revenue, cannot be elected Deputies to the Legislative 
Assembly. " Neither can be elected the functionaries nominated 
at the will of the National Executive power, or the President of 
the State, the functionaries who may exercise authority or 
jurisdiction, nor the military chiefs in service, in all the territory 
of the electoral circle that makes the election." {Sic.) 

Art. 33rd. When any one holding employment from the 
executive power, and who can be elected Deputy, may obtain 
and accept that election, his former employment shall be vacant. 

Art. 34th. When any individual once assumes the office of 
Deputy, he cannot accept any employment from the President of 
the State, till the period of his election has expired. He can 
only accept the Secretaryship of State ; but, on entering into his 
office, his place in the Assembly shall be vacant. 

Art. 35th. The Deputies to the Assembly shall be elected for 
a period of two years, which shall be reckoned from the 1st of 
September following their election. They are indefinitely re- 
eligible, irresponsible for the opinions they may emit in the 
Assembly, and they enjoy immunity in their persons and 

Art. 36th. The immunity is, that no civil action can be insti- 


tuted against them, nor can they be detained, arrested, imprisoned, 
nor in any way deprived of tlieir liberty for criminal nor cor- 
rectional motives, without having previously been suspended 
from office by the Assembly ; and this immunity is enjoyed by 
the Deputies during all the time of the Sessions, one month 
previous, and the necessary days to enable them to return to 
their homes, which dsijs (never to be more than thirty), shall be 
reckoned at the rate of one for every two myriametres. 

Art. 87th. The Deputies to the Assembly are considered as in 
the service of the State, whilst enjoying immunity ; therefore, no 
writ whatever can cause them any prejudice during that time 
which has not been notified to them personally, unless it has been 
notified to their proxies, if they have any. 

Art. 38th. In the election for Deputies, a nuiDber double of 
that corresponding to the respective electoral circle is to be voted 
for ; those obtaining the relative majority of votes are principal 
Deputies ; and those following, in number equal to the principal 
Deputies, are the substitutes. Every case of equality shall be 
decided by lot. 

The substitutes replace the principals, following the order of 
the majority of votes they may have obtained. 

Art. 39th. The Assembly shall meet in the capital of the State, 
on the first day of September of every year, and shall act in a 
body during the time it may deem necessary. It will also meet 
extraordinarily when convened by the President of the State, or 
by resolution of the majority of its members, who shall give 
notice to the rest, that they may opportunely concur. 

Art. 40th. When any grave motive may make it necessary, the 
Assembly may meet in another place, or may remove to that 
place its sessions for a time. 

Art. 41st. The Assembly cannot open nor continue its sessions 
wdthout the presence of the majority of its members ; and in 
extraordinary sessions, besides that majority, it must appear that 
the members have been cited one month previously. 

Art. 42nd. The Assembly shall make regulations, in which 
the order of its proceedings and discussion of affairs shall be 

2 c 


established, and in which also the sitting-hours shall be precisely- 
stated, so that, out of those hours, the Assembly cannot meet nor 
decree anything binding the State. 

Art. 43rd. The attributes of the Legislative Assembly are : 

1. To qualify the election of its members. 

2. To dictate the laws and legislative acts which it may deem 
convenient in all matters which may be the subject of a law, 
and of the competency of the State, and to interpret, reform, or 
abolish any laws or legislative acts of force. 

3. To examine the votes for the President of the United States 
of Colombia, and Magistrates of the Supreme Federal Court. 

4. To examine the votes, and to declare the election of the 
Senators, Plenipotentiary, and Eepresentatives to the National 

5. To examine the votes for President, Court Magistrates, and 
Attorney-General of the State, and to declare the election. 

6. To elect, by absolute majority of votes, the President's, 
Court Magistrate's, and Attorney-General's substitutes; the 
Auditor of Public Accounts and his substitute; the Administrator 
of the Eevenue, and other functionaries whose nomination may 
be attributed to it (the Assembly) by law. 

The vacancy left by the absence of these functionaries during 
the prorogation of the Assembly, shall be filled in the manner 
prescribed by law. 

The Substitute's period is one common year; that of the 
Auditor of Public Accounts and of the Administrator of the 
Eevenue shall be determined by law. 

7. To designate within the fifteen days immediately following 
the President's entry into office, two chiefs of the State forces, 
holding rank of colonel or general, as disposable for any service 
that may occur. 

8. To appropriate the sums which may be taken from the State 
Treasury for each financial period's expenditure, which period 
shall be of one common year. In time of peace the sums thus 
appropriated shall not exceed the probable revenue. 

9. To order the sale of State property. 


10. To fix annually the public forces for the service of the State. 

11. To grant amnesties and general pardons for grave motives 
of public utility. 

12. To create employments necessary for the service of the 
State, and to establish regulations for their provision, salaries, 
and fulfilment of duties. 

13. To demand from the President of the State an account of 
his operations, and any written or verbal information it may 
require for the better transaction of its affairs. 

Art. -tilth. The Assembly cannot delegate any one of its 

Art. 45th. The Deputies to the Assembly, whilst such, cannot 
make in their own name, nor in that of any other person, any 
contract with the President of the State, nor obtain privileges, 
recompense, pensions, nor favours. They can neither admit 
from any government, company, or individual, powers of attorney 
to act in such matters as may have relation to the Assembly. 

Art. 4Gth The Secretaries and the Attorney-General are 
admitted to all discussions in the Assembly, but without a vote. 



Art. 47th The draft of a law may be introduced by the 
Deputies and by the President of the State. 

Art. 48th. Every draft of a law shall undergo three debates, 
each one on a different day; and in each debate the relative 
majority of the members present is necessary, they forming a 
quorum, excepting the cases for which the present constitution 
may require a greater number of affirmative votes in particular 

Art. 49th. The laws are headed thus : 

"Law of of of 

The Legislative Assembly of the State of Panama Disposes." 
Should there be any motive part, it shall go before the word 
" Disposes." 

2 c 2 


Art. 50th. When the draft of a law is proposed by the As- 
sembly, it shall be discussed in three debates on different days, 
and, when passing the majority required by the constitution, it 
shall be sent to the Executive Power with a duplicate, that ho 
may sanction it, or present objections to it. 

Art. 51st. Within six days after having received the draft of a 
law, the President of the State shall return one of the copies with 
his sanction, or with the objections that he may have thought 
proper to make. Every draft not returned within the specified 
time shall become a law of the State, and as such it shall be 
observed. Yet if, in the meantime, the Assembly has closed its 
sessions, the draft must be sanctioned, unless the Assembly is 
immediately and extraordinarily convened, and there should be 
time to submit the objections to its consideration. 

Art. 52nd. When a draft is returned with objections, it is 
discussed anew, and the Assembly agrees, or does not agree, to 
the objections made. Whatever may be the objection made by 
the President of the State, the Assembly may insist on the 
original terms of the draft, with only the majority required by 
this constitution to approve the draft in question, as if it were in 
its third debate. 

Art. 53rd. When the draft is reformed according to the ideas 
of the President of the State, or when the same is again presented 
by the Assembly, insisting on the identical first terms, it cannot 
be objected to, and it must be sanctioned by the Executive. 
Excepting these two cases, every draft objected to and altered by 
the Assembly, in virtue of the objection, must pass through the 
proceedings established for the second and third debates, and can 
be again objected to. 



Art. 54th. The Executive Power is exercised by a functionary 
called "President of the State," and by his agents, as appointed 
by the law. 


Art. 55tli. The President of the State shall remain in office for 
a period of two years, reckoned from the 1st of October following 
his election, and he shall be nominated by the relative majority of 
the votes of the citizens of the State who may vote in the election. 

Art. 56th. The President of the State cannot be re-elected 
before the expiration of one constitutional period after having 
ceased fi-om office. 

Art. 57th. In case of temporary or indefinite absence of the 
President of the State, a substitute shall assume this title and 
the President's functions. The Assembly shall elect in each 
ordinary sessions, by absolute majority of votes, five substitutes, 
and shall designate the order in which they are, when necessary, 
to replace the President. If no one of the substitutes is able to 
exercise immediately after the vacancy which may occur, the 
functions of President of the State, the Secretaries of State shall 
exercise them according to their seniority, until the President or 
one of his substitutes can take charge of the office. 

Art. 58th. The President, before entering into office, shall 
make the constitutional promise before the Assembly, if it should 
be sitting. The law will name the authority before which it 
shall be made during the prorogation of the Assembly. 

Art. 59th. The attributes of the President of the State are : 

1. To obey and to execute the constitution and laws of the 
State, and to make them be obeyed and executed. 

2. To dispose of the public forces of the State, to maintain 
order and tranquillity in it, and for other objects which the 
public service may require. 

3. To suspend from office the functionaries of the State 
Treasury nominated by the Assembly, when they may have 
committed any of the offences which, according to law, gives 
reason for the suspension, 

4. To nominate and to dismiss at his will the agents designated 
by law, and who are not according to the constitution elected by 
the people. 

5. To provide for any employment the nomination to which 
may not have been attributed by law to other functionaries. 


6. To grant special pardon for political offences whenever a 
grave motive of public convenience may demand it, and on 
previously hearing the Court's opinion, but not during the ses- 
sions of the Assembly, nor for offences committed against it. 

7. To enter into agreements personally, or through commis- 
sioners named by him, with the governments of the other States, 
or with private contractors, whenever it may be necessary, for the 
construction of public works, or for other objects of interest to 
the State ; but such agreements cannot be caiTied into effect 
without the Assembly's approbation, unless they have been 
entered into with the Assembly's authorization, and in con- 
formity with the laws established by it 

8. To present to the Assembly on the first day of its ordinary 
sessions, a written information of the state of affairs in the several 
branches of the administration, and of the course they may have 
taken during the last fiscal year, proposing whatever he may 
deem convenient. 

9. To present, together with the information, a general account 
of all the fiscal operations corresponding to the last fiscal year, 
and the draft of the " presupposed revenue and expenditure " for 
the following period. 

10. To transmit to the Assembly the written accounts which, 
within eight days after its meeting, the Secretaries must present 
to him relative to the affairs of their respective charges. 

11. To have every legislative act which may have been 
sanctioned and ordered to be executed, according to the consti- 
tution, published within six days, if it be not a code, and within 
sixty if it be, the days to be leckoned from the date of the 
sanction, and to have it promulgated, after its being printed, 
within six days in the capital of the State, and within thirty 
days in the other parts of the State. 

12. To attend to the exact collection and proper employment 
of the revenue of the State. 

13. To nominate within the first month of his official period 
from the two military chiefs designated by the Assembly, the 
first and second Commander General of the forces of the State. 


The period of tlieir duration is the same as that of the Pre- 

14. To attend to the prompt and exact administration of justice, 
moving through those exercising the public ministry, the trial 
of all delinquents, and the speedy conclusion of the civil suits 
which may be examined by the judges and tribunals of the State. 

15. The other duties and functions which the law may prescribe. 
Art. 60th. The President has agents in the departments and in 

the districts. The agents in the departments are called Prefects, 
and are elected by the people ; those in the districts are called 
" Alcaldes," and are nominated by the authority or corporation 
determined by law. 

Art. 61st. For the administration of affairs pertaining to the 
President, he shall have the secretaries determined by law, 
whom he will nominate and dismiss at his will. 

Art. 62nd. Ko order of the President of the State shall be 
obeyed, if it be not authorized with the signature of the respective 
secretary, excepting only the decree nominating or dismissing 
the same secretaries. 

Art. 63rd. The President cannot in any case provide against 
the constitution nor the laws. 



Art. 64th. The judicial power is exercised by a supreme jury, 
by a court of the State, by the departmental juries, by the district 
judges, and by the other tribunals and judicatures which the law 
may establish. 

Art. 65th. Persons employed in the administration of justice 
canuot be employed in any other branch of the public service of 
the State. 

Art. 66th. No functionary of the judicial branch, with juris- 
diction can be suspended from the exercise of his office till he 
has been declared amenable to the law, nor can he be deprived 
of his office but by judicial sentence. 


Art. 67tli. Tlie departmental judicatures and the functions of 
the judges shall be determined by law. In every district there 
shall be one judge at least. 

Art. 68th. The judicial power of the State is independent. 
The suits begun in conformity with its special legislation shall 
end in the State without being subject to the examination of any 
foreign authority, when they are matters of the exclusive com- 
petence of the State. 

§ The indemnities which the Union may have to grant for acts 
violating individual guarantees, acknowledged in the 15th 
Article of the National Constitution, and in the 2nd of this Con- 
stitution, which may be committed by functionaries of the State, 
shall he imputed to the State, which shall be responsible to the 
Federal treasury for the pecuniary impost of the indemnity 

The resolution in the present article does not preclude the 
responsibility incurred by the functionary who may have been 
the cause of the indemnity, after judgment which shall be con 
ducted according to the penal laws of the State. 



Art. 69th. The Supreme Jury is composed of five citizens 
nominated annually by the Assembly, within the three first days 
of ordinary sessions, in separate elections, and by the absolute 
majority of votes. 

Art. 70th. The .attributes of the Supreme Jury are : 

1. To examine the criminal causes instituted against the 
President, the Court Magistrates, and the Attorney-General. In 
this case its functions are reduced to declare that there are 
sufficient grounds for trial, to decree the suspension from office, 
and to deliver the defendant to the competent judge. 

2. To try and decide the responsibilities incurred by the 
President, his Secretaries, the Court Magistrates, and the Attor- 




Art. 71st. The Court of the State is composed of three Magis- 
trates, who remain in office during two years, are elected by the 
absolute majority of the citizens who may vote, and can be re- 

The period shall be reckoned from 1st of October nearest the 

Art. 72nd. The attributes of the Superior Court of the State are : 

1. To examine and decide the criminal causes instituted against 
the President, Court Magistrates, and the Attorney-General. 

2. To examine the responsibilities incurred by the Auditor of 
Public Accounts, the Administrator of the Eevenue, Prefects, 
Departmental Judges, and Attorneys, and the other functionaries 
deteimined by law. 

3. To examine and decide the litigations which may arise 
about contracts entered into by the President. 

4. To examine and decide the criminal causes instituted against 
the Prefects, Departmental Judges, and Attorneys, and the 
Administrator of the Eevenue, decreeing, as the case maybe, the 
suspension from office of the respective functionary. 

5. Whatever others may be prescribed by law. 



Art. 73rd. The Public Ministry is exercised b}^ the Legislative 
Assembly, by the Attorney-General, by the Departmental Attor- 
neys, and the other agents appointed by law. 

Art. 74th. The Legislative Assembly can accuse before the 
Supreme Jury, through an attorney selected from amongst its 
members, the functionaries who are amenable before said jury, 
according to the 70th article of this constitution. 

Ai-t. 75th. The Attorney-General of the State and his substi- 


tute are elected in the same manner and for the same period as 

the Court Magistrates and their substitutes. 

Their period shaU be reckoned from the 1st of October follow- 
ing their election. 

Art. 76th. The Attorney-General of the State acts before the 
court in all criminal and civil proceedings in which the State 
may be, or may have to be a party. 

Art. 77th. The Attorney- General has the following attributes : 

1. To move the suspension of the President of the State when 
a criminal cause shall be instituted against him. 

2. To accuse, criminally, before the competent tribunal, the 
President of the State and his Secretaries, the Court Magistrates 
and their Secretary, the Administrator of the Revenue, the 
Prefects, and the Departmental Judges and Attorneys. 

3. To attend to the punctual observance of the constitution and 
the laws, requiring the respective functionaries to execute them, 
whenever it may come to his knowledge that an authority is 
remiss in the execution of his duties,- or that individual guaran- 
tees have to be attacked. 

4. To exercise any other functions pi'escribed by law. 

Art. 78th. The Attorney- General watches the proceedings in 
the administration of justice, moving whatever he may think 
convenient to their regularity, either before the tribunals or 
before the legislative power. 

Art. 79th. The law will determine the manner of replacing the 
Attorney-General's substitute, and will organise the public 



Art. 80th. Every placeman or public functionary, before 
entering into ofSce, must promise to obey and to execute the 
constitution and the laws of the State, and to faithfully discharge 
his duties. The law will determine before whom the promise is 
to be made by each functionary. 


Art. 81st. No fimctionary or public corporation shall exercise 
any function or authority which has not been expressly attributed 
to them by the constitution or by the law. 

Art. 82nd. All public functionaries are responsible before the 
authorities designated by the constitution or the law for exer- 
cising functions which are not expressly attributed to them, or 
for the bad performance of their duties. 

Art. 83rd. No legislative act shall have a retro-active effect, 
excepting in penal matters, when later the law may impose less 
penalty in a general and permanent manner, and where the 
person responsible for a punishable act has not been sentenced. 

Art. 84th. Nothing shall be paid out of the public treasury, 
for which a corresponding sum has not been appropriated by the 
Legislature, nor shall a greater sum be paid than the one appro- 
priated. When for any motive the presupposed expenditure for 
one year cannot be voted, that of the preceding year is to be 
considered as repeated. 

Art. 85th. The State protects primary instruction, consequently 
the districts which are in a capacity to do so, shall establish and 
maintain a school in which reading, writing, and whatever else 
may be prescribed by law, shall be taught gratis. 

Art. 86th. The law will decide which are the districts which 
are treated of in the preceding article, and it may ordain that 
those districts that cannot maintain primary schools out of their 
proper funds, may be aided by the State. 

Art. 87th. No taxes shall be imposed to defray expenses of the 
Churches establibhed, or to be established, in the State. Every 
Church shall sustain itself with what its followers may volun- 
tarily contribute. 

Art. 88th. No alteration shall be made in the salaries of the 
President, the Attorney-General, nor the Judicial Functionaries, 
nor in the daily salary and viaticum of the deputies, in such a 
manner as to comprehend those who may be in ofSce, nor those 
nominated to it. 

Art. 89th. The duration of the President, of the Court Magis- 
trates, and of the Attorney-General cannot be altered in a manner 


such as to compreliend the persons who at that time may be in 
office, or who may be nominated to it. 

Art. 90th. In every legislative act which reforms a law, that 
part of the law which remains of force shall be included. 

Art. 91st. The doubts which may occur about the interpreta- 
tion of any part of this constitution can be resolved by special 
law, approved in its last debate by two-thirds of the deputies 
who compose the Assembly. 



Art. 92nd. The Legislative Assembly cannot exercise the 
functions of a constitutional Assembly. 

Art. 93rd. To introduce a reform in the constitution, it will be 
necessary, firstly, that a majority of two-thirds of the members 
present so decide it ; and secondly, tha^ a convention be convened 
by a law for that object. 

Art. 94th. The convention cal]ed upon to reform the consti- 
tution, shall be composed of as many members as correspond to 
the ordinary Legislature, and elected by the direct suffrage of the 
citizens of the State. The election shall be made by circles. 



Art. 95th. The Sovereign State of Panama is subject to the 
general Government of tbe United States of Colombia, to whose 
authority it submits itself in all the affairs expressed in the 
sixteen paragraphs of the 17th article of the constitution, 
sanctioned on the 8th of May of 1863, in the city of Eio Negro. 

Art. 96th. In compliance with the general constitution, the 
State consigns in this constitution what follows : 


1. Communities, corporations, and religious associations and 
entities are incapable of acquiring real estate. 

2. Eeal estate cannot be acquired with other character than 
that of being alienable and divisible at the exclusive will of the 
proprietor, and of being transmitted to heirs according to common 

3. Foundations, donations, and legacies left in virtue of last 
will, trusts, and all settlements, under pretence of which a real 
estate would be withdrawn from free circulation, are for ever 

4. In future, perpetual endowments can only be furnished 
through the national or the State treasury, and in no wise 
through real estate. 

5. There shall be no slaves in the State of Panama. 

Art. 97th. In the State there shall be no Federal functionaries 
having ordinary jurisdiction or authority in time of peace. Are 
excepted, the National Congress, the Supreme Federal Court, 
and the Executive Power of the nation, in such cases as, 
according to the constitution and the general laws, they may 
exercise their functions in the State of Panama. 

§ 1. The agents of the government of the Union in fiscal, 
military, and other affairs, shall ordinarily exercise their functions 
under the inspection of the authorities of the State, according to 
their ranks. 

§ 2. The State authorities are also of the Federal order in what- 
ever requires command or jurisdiction, and they must therefore 
discharge, under strict responsibility, which will be exacted from 
them by the high Federal powers in conformity with the National 
Constitution and the laws relative thereto, the duties which the 
high Federal powers may entrust to them, according to law. 

Art. 98th. To sustain the national sovereignty, and to main- 
tain public security and tranquillity, the government of the 
State acknowledges, as an attribute of the National Government 
the right of supreme inspection over religious worship, as may 
be determined by law, without the State's renouncing the 
attribute of exercising the same right. 


Art. 99th. The State wiH contribute to raise the public force 
of the Union with its corresponding contingent, when necessary, 
by calling to service such citizens as may be called, in conformity 
with the constitution and laws of the State. 

Art. 100th. The State does not agree to any change made by 
the general Government in the military chiefs commanding the 
State forces, excepting in cases, and with the formalities 
determined by the national law. 

Art. 101st. The people vote in the State for the Senators 
Plenipotentiary, and Eepresentatives to the National Congress ; 
for the President of the United States of Colombia, and for the 
Magistrates of the Supreme Court, in conformity with what is 
enacted in the Articles 38, 39, 75, and 76, of the National Con- 
stitution. The election law of the State will determine the rules 
by which the elections are to be effected. 

Art. 102nd. Senators Plenipotentiary, and Eepresentatives of 
the National Congress, whilst enjoying immunity according to 
the National Constitution, shall have the same prerogatives in 
the State as its deputies to the Legislative Assembly. 

Art. 103rd. In case of war between the United States of 
Colombia, and of foreign government, or of an interior commo- 
tion in arms against the general Government, the President of the 
State may employ the means indicated in the sixth article to 
furnish the general Government with the contingent of men, and 
other resources to be contributed by the State. 



Art. 104th. This Constitution shall be of force for the general 
functionaries of the State, from the day after its having been 
signed by the members of the Assembly ; on which day the 
President of the Assembly shall send an authentic copy to the 
President of the State. 

Art. 1 05th. The powers of the deputies and their substitutes. 


elected according to the decrees of the 17th of September, and 
the 20th of October, of 1862, shall cease on the day on which the 
period of the deputies, to be elected in conformity to this Con- 
stitution and to the election law, that this Assembly will enact 
as a legislative body, may begin. 

Art. 106th. The Assembly, as a legislative body, can be 
convened for extraordinary sessions, in conformity with the 

Art. 107th. When this constitution shall have been printed, 
the President of the State shall send a copy of it, with a declara- 
tion of its authenticity, to each of the following functionaries : to 
the President of the United States of Colombia ; to the Presidents 
of the Senate of Plenipotentiaries, of the Chamber of Representa- 
tives, and of the Supreme Court ; to the Attorney-General of the 
nation ; and to the persons charged of the Executive Power in 
the States of the Colombian Union ; and the Secretary of Govern- 
ment shall send a copy to the general functionaries of the State, 
and to the Prefects. 

Art. 108th. The Prefects shall have this constitution pro- 
mulgated in every district in the State, with all possible 
solemnity, on the 25th of July of the present year. 

Art. 109th. This Constitution does not require the Executive 
Power's sanction that it may be executed. 

Art. 110th. The Constitution, and all the Constitutional Acts, 
issued by the State before this Constitution, are abolished. The 
present one shall solely be of force. 

Art. 111th. Before the popular elections take place, the Presi- 
dent, the Court Magistrates, the Attorney-General of the State, 
the Administrator of the Revenue, the Auditor of Public Accounts, 
the Prefects, the Departmental Judges and Attorneys, and these 
functionaries' substitutes, shall be named by the present Assembly, 
and shall remain in office till the 30th of September of 1864. 

The persons charged of the Executive Power, and the other 
functionaries to whom this article alludes, who maybe exercising 
their functions at the time of the popular election, cannot in that 
election, be re-elected to the same office. 


Art. 112th. The present Assembly shall vote for the President 
of the United States of Colombia, and for the Magistrates of the 
Supreme Federal Court, according to the 75th and 79th articles 
of the National Constitution. The Assembly shall also elect the 
Senators Plenipotentiary, who, in conformity with the Federal 
Constitution, are to represent the State in the next legal 

Enacted in Panama, on the fourth of July, of the year one 
thousand eight hundred and sixty-three." 



Price of Passage, |25 ; Children under 12 years half-price ; under 6 years 

quarter ditto. 


Agricultural implements, 25 cents per foot. 

Acids — Muriatic, sulphuric and nitric, 5 cents per lb. 

Baggage — Passengers' (501bs. free) 5 cents per lb. 

Carriages, 20 cents per cubic foot. 

Coal, |5 per ton of 22401bs. 

Cocoanuts, $1 per hundred. 

Cattle, at owners' risk, ordinary trains, over eight, |5 each. Cattle, ditto, 

ditto, under eight, $7 each. 
Cattle, steamer-trains, owners' risk, special agreement, |25 each. Coke- 
coal, |7 per ton of 2240lbs. 
Cartridges, with balls, 5 cents per lb. 
Copper ore, in bags, three-eights of 1 cent per lb. 
Cotton, in compressed bales, 18 cents per cubic foot. 
Demijohns, 50 cents each. 
Dye-woods, $7 per ton of 22401bs, 

Express freight, by steamer-trains, 80 cents per cubic foot. 
Furniture, such as tables, chairs, bureaus, bedsteads, glass shades, &g., 

25 cents per cubic foot. 
Gunpowder, separate cars, 5 cents per lb., net. 
Gold in dust, coined, or manufactured, one quarter per cent, on value. Hides, 

15 cents on each. 
Horses at owners' risk, steamer-trains, special agreement, |4-0 each. 
Horses, on other than steamer-trains, $20 each. 
Ice, |10 per ton, of 2240 lbs. 
Jewellery, one quarter per cent, on value. 
Lumber — white pine, $10 per M. 

„ yellow ditto, $12 per M. 

„ oak, $15 per M. 

,, cedar and mahogany, $15 per M. 
Mules, at owners' risk, special agreement, $20 each. 
Oil — whale and palm, towards the Atlantic, 4 cents per gallon. 

2 D 


Patent fuel, |5 per ton of 22401bs. 

Pitch, $1 per barrel. 

Platina, three-eighths per cent, on vahie. 

Poultry — chickens, 75 cents per dozen ; turkeys, ^1 50c. per dozen. 

Precious stones, three- eighths per cent, on value. 

Quicksilver, 50 cents per iron flask. 

Eosin, $1 per barrel. 

Shingles, $3 per M. 

Silver, in bars, coined, or manufactured, three-eighths per cent, on valne. 

Silver ore, one-half per cent, on value. 

Swine, at owners' risk, $2 each. 

Sheep, at owners' risk, by passenger-trains, $12 50 cents. 

Tin ores, three-eighths of one cent per lb. 

Tar, fl per barrel. 


First-class freight, comprising merchandise in boxes and bales, not other- 
wise enumerated, 50 cents per cubic foot. 

Second-class freight, as per description annexed, one and a half cents per 

Third-class freight, ditto, ditto, one cent per pound. 

Fourth, ditto ditto, ditto ditto, three-quarters of a cent per pound. 

Fifth-class freight, ditto ditto, half a cent per pound. 

Sixth ditto ditto, ditto, ditto quarter of a cent per pound. 

All articles not specially named to be assimilated. 

First Glass — 50 cents per cubic foot. 

Books, boots, bonnets, cinnamon, clothing, cigars. 

Cards (playing), casiate, lignea, caps, drugs. 

Dry goods, not elsewhere enumerated. 

Eau-de-Cologne, essential oils, essences. 

Flannel, fireworks, furs not otherwise enumerated. 

Feathers — glassware, fine, stained, and plate, at owners' risk. Looking- 
glasses at owners' risk. 

Gloves — hats, fur or felt, and of Guayaquil or Panama straw. 

Harness, hosiery — light goods, not elsewhere specified. 

Medicines, millinery, matches. 

Musical instruments — oil-cloth, organs. 

Paper-hangings, paper, writing and printing. 

Pianos, perfumery, percussion caps, poultry, not elsewhere specified ; por- 
celain and chinaware, fine paintings and engravings — silks, stationery. 

Shoes, saddlery, statuary, at owners' risk, sewing machines. 

Toys and fancy goods. 


Second Class — One and a half cent per ^ound. 

Almonds, anchovies, aniseed. 

Balsams, beeswax, baskets, britannia-ware. 

Brandy — bellows, cordials, carpeting, chocolate. 

Cochineal, corks and corkwood, chandeliers at owners' risk ; clocks. 

Confectionery, clay pipes, eggs, firearms, fruits (dried). 

Groceries, not elsewhere specified. 

German silverware — indigo. 

Lamps (ornamental). 

Mattresses, mustard, nuts, not elsewhere specified, oars. 

Preserved meats and fruits, plated goods. 

Picture frames, platform scales. 

Spices, straw for manufacturing, soap (fancy), sardines. 

Tea, tree-nails, tobacco (manufactured). 

Tortoise-shell, trees and plants in mats, turtle (live.) 

Varnish, in tins ; veneers, wooden ware, wooden blocks, 

Tliird Class — 1 cent per pound. 

Alcohol, brooms, brushes, balsam of copaivi. 
Bark, blankets. 
Candles, cutlery. 

Gravestones — hay, in compressed bales. 
Liquors, leather (dressed), nails, copper, and brass. 
Oil (towards Pacific). 

Ornaments of stone, clay, marble, alabaster. 

Paints, dry in oil — rubber, hose, and packing, sarsaparilla, spirit of tur- 
Tin ware, type, tubing, copper and brass. 
Tobacco (unmanufactured), tacks. 
Varnish (in bbls.), wool of alpaca or vicunia. 
Whalebone, wine in baskets and boxes. 

Fourth Class — three-quarters of a cent per pound. 

Ale — beef, butter, blacking. 

Bacon, in casks ; borax, bread, bottles (empty), burlaps, bath bricks. 

Cheese, cider, copper-sheathing and spikes, castings of copper, brass or 

Cotton waste, crackers ; crockery, not elsewhere specified, copperas. 
Deer skins, in bales ; domestics, dowlas. 

Earthenware, in casks or crates — fish, flour, felt (for sheathing). 
Grindstones, glassware (coarse), window glass, &c. 

2 D 2 


Goat skins, in bales — hams in casks, hardware. 

Herrings, hoops of wood or iron, holk)w ware (iron). 

Hemp, manufactures, such as canvas, osnaburgs and bagging. 

Hats, coarse country straw of palm leaf — India rubber, lard. 

Matches, meal, millstones, machinery, molasses. 

Mats, matting, moulds, oakum, oats, orchilla weed. 

Pans, pork (salt), porter, potatoes, pickles — rice, rope. 

Sheep-skins, in bales — stoves. 

Sugar ; steel, in bars and bundles. 

Salt, soap (common), sago, shot (in bags). 

Safes (iron), seeds, shovels, spades, screws. 

Soda-water, syrups, sugar-mills. 

Tea (towards Atlantic), tallow, tool-handles, twine. 

Vegetables, vinegar, vices (iron), wool of sheep. 

Window-glass, v/ire (brass and copper). 

Wine in wood, wrapping paper, yarn (of cotton), zinc in sheets. 

Fifth Class — half a cent per pound. 

Anvils, anchors, bananas, beans, copper in bars. 

Canon, cables (iron), cocoa, coffee, cannon-balls and shot (iron), crowbars, 

corn (Indian), chalk. 
Fruits of the Isthmus, not otherwise enumerated. 
Hollow shot, ice in quantity, iron (old), hoop-iron. 
Iron castings (not machinery), sheet-iron. 
Iron in bars, iron cables, iron tubing. 
Iron boiler-plates, iron bars and pipes. 
Lemons, lime, lead (in pigs, sheet, and pipes). 
Nails (iron), oranges, old junk (rope). 
Pearl shells in sacks, plantains, peas. 
Spikes (iron), whiting, zinc (ingots). 

Sixth Class — One quarter of a cent per pound. 

Borate of lime, brick, cement, iron (in pigs), lime. 

Guano in bags — iron in pigs, lime, marble for building purposes, including 
flooring-tiles and paving. 

Nitrate of soda, in bags — stone, for building purposes, including paving- 


Freights to be charged on gross weight of packages, and to be paid iu 
advance, or before the dehvery of goods. 

All claims for loss or damage to be presented within five days, otherwise 
they will not be paid. 


Tlie Conipauy will not be resjDonsible for articles of extra value beyond 
$ 100 per package, nnless declared and way-billed accordingly. 

No package, however small, wall be transported for less than one dollar. 

The Company will not be responsible for the breakage or loss of contents 
of any demijohn or jug. 

Storage will be charged on all goods remaining in the Company's store- 
houses after twenty-four hours, unless by special agreement otherwise. 

All bills payable in American currency, or its equivalent. 

Goods shipped for California under through bills of lading must be 
corded and sealed at the New York Custom House, or they will be liable to 
the payment of duties in San Francisco. 
Jan. 1, 1865. 


The following is a translated copy of the contract entered into 
by Commander Pirn, 'K. N., and the Government of Nicaragua, 
for the construction of a railroad across that Isthmus : — 


The undersigned Licentiate, Don Antonio Salva, Finance Minister of the 
Supreme Government of Nicaragua, especially commissioned, and Bedford 
Clapperton Trevelyan Pim, Commander in the English Navy, for himself 
and for the Company that will be formed, have agreed on the following 
contract : — 

Article 1st. — The Eepublic of Nicaragua concedes to Commander Bed- 
ford Pim, of the Eoyal Navy, and to the Company he proposes to form, the 
heirs, successors, administrators or assignees of the same, the right of estab- 
lishing a transit from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, by means of a 
railroad from Monkey Point on the Atlantic, to Corinto on the Gulf of 
Fonseca, on the Pacific, passing along the northern side of the Lake of 
Nicaragua, crossing the Tipitapa or Panalaya, and continuing along the 
southern side of Lake Managua in its entire length to Leon and either en- 
trance indicated above, also the right of preference for any branches proposed 
by foreigners, or that he or the Company may deem proper to undertake. 

Art. 2nd. — It concedes also the unoccupied lands which may be requisite 
for the route, its necessary and accessory works, as road, wet and dry docks, 
wharfs, landings, places, stations, warehouses, coal depots, hotels, buildings, 


electric telegraphs, convenient or lialf an English mile on each side of the 
railroad, and in the case of lands belonging to towns or private persons, the 
right of appropriation in accordance with the laws of the republic, on pay- 
ment of the just value of said lands as well as damages as decided by 
experts ; such value being the actual price, without reference to that which 
it might subsequently attain from the passage of a railroad. 

Art. 3rd.— It concedes all the right of using for the raih'oad, or for any ac- 
cessory works the national products or materials which the unoccupied lands 
may contain, without any indemnification, and also any national products 
or materials contained in lands of private persons, upon payment for the 
appropriation according to law ; provided that previous to the occupation of 
lands or taking possession of the materials, notice is given to the owner and 
the Prefect of the Department. 

Aet. 4th. — The foregoing concession will continue for fifty (50) years, 
counting from the conclusion of the works ; provided the works commence 
within two years of the final ratification of this contract and are concluded 
within the seven (7) following years ; and in case the works are not com- 
menced or not concluded within the time stipulated, this charter shall be 
absolutely forfeited. 

Art. 5th. — The railway enterprise shall enjoy exemption from any import 
duty on all the material and machinery which they may introduce for their 
works, and also the persons engaged on the works shall not be interfered 
with, except only in case of offence against law and police, or foreign war, 
or of mihtary services of military men in time of peace, without exception, 
but the establishment of the railroad shall not be an asylum for persons 
prosecuted by the legitimate authority, neither can any foreign flag be used 
in such establishment, unless by persons representing foreign govern- 

Art. 6th. — In the event of an inter-oceanic canal being constructed, the 
works thereof shall not be embarrassed by the Eailroad Company ; but it is 
expressly understood that the right of Commander Bedford 0. T. Pim and 
Company, the lieirs, successors, administrators or assignees of the same is 
exclusively only for a railroad from the western extreme of Lake Managua 
and the Port of Tamarinda, which is exclusive to the westward, and that 
each exchange is not to be understood as against Nicaragua or Central 
American enterprise. 

Art. 7th. — The persons, goods, or mails, in transit from ocean to ocean 
by the Bedford Pim Eailroad, shall be exempt from any trouble or impost, 
and the ships which may arrive at the extreme ports shall also be free from 
any anchorage or tonnage dues, but the republic reserves to itself the right to 
make what regulations it considers necessary in regard to persons who may 
come to reside in the territory of the republic for however short a time, 
and to impose the usual import dues upon whatever articles are intended 


for interior consumption, and the railroad shall not knowingly permit such 
regulations to be eluded or infringed, but on the contrary, loyally assist the 
Government in their fulfilment. 

Akt. 8th. — The questions that may arise between the Company and any 
inhabitant of the Eepublic shall be subject to Nicaraguan laws and tribunals, 
and those which may arise between the Government and the Company shall 
be settled within the republic, and according to its laws, by the arbitration 
of two important persons, whether natives or foreigners, appointed by each 
party, and in addition of a third chosen by the aforesaid in the event of their 
disagreement, and in case the two arbitrators cannot agree in the nomination, 
the ballot shall be decided, amongst four of whom, two shall be nominated 
by each arbitrator, 

Akt. 9th. — The Eepublic shall receive two (2) per cent, on the gross 
produce of the undertaking, which sum shall be verified by the books of the 
Company and paid annually. 

Akt. 10th. — The Eailroad Company shall have entire liberty of action, and 
of regulation in the operations of the transit, so that they shall only be re- 
sponsible for any damage which it may cause, whether it be to persons or 
property by any default without any indemnification. 

Art. 11th. — The usual roads on the lands through which the railroad is 
to pass are not to be occupied or cut without being consistently established. 

Art. 12th. — The treaties celebrated with other nations in respect of transit 
of passengers, goods, and mails, as also their protection and the tariffs, being 
the law of Nicaragua, the Company shall submit to their stipulations. 

Art. 13th. — The Company shall always recognise the sovereignty of the 
Eepublic over the temtory of the concession from ocean to ocean, without 
interfering in any way with any other authority. 

Art. 14th. — At the expiration of this contract for any proved default on 
the part of the Company, in regard to stipulations in form of the Eepublic, 
the railroad and all the accessory works, real and moveable, belonging to the 
transit, and which shall exist in the Eepublic, shall pass into the possession 
of the Government. 

Art. 15th. —It is especially stipulated that Commander Bedford C. T. Pirn 
and Company, the heirs, successors, administrators, or assigns of the same 
shall never alienate the present contract or the works made under it to any 
foreign government, company, or individual, without the consent of the 
government of Nicaragua. 

Art. 16th. — All persons employed in the Company must maintain the 
strictest neutrality in anything relating to the political affairs of Nicaragua 
upon pain of immediate dismissal when the Government gives notice to the 
Company of their failing to observe this regulation. 

Art. 17th. — The contract shall be of no effect without the acceptance of 
Congress, and without the consultation of the Executive with the Govern- 


ments of Guatamala and Costa Rica, for which purpose sixty days are given 
as time for granting the privilege. 

Given in the Hall of the Chamber of Deputies, 16th March, 1864. 
In witness whereof, we have signed the same in duplicate with our own 
hands in Nicaragua, on the 5th day of March a.d., 1864. 

Antonio Silva, 
Bedford C. T. Pim. 

I, Bedford C T. Pim, Commander in the English Navy, in my own name 
and that of the Company I am about to form, hereby accept, confirm, and 
ratify the railroad contract, which I have signed this day with the Commis- 
sioner of the Supreme Government of Nicaragua, Licentiate Antonio Silva, 
Minister of Finance. 

In witness whereof, I sign the same with my own hand in Nicaragua, the 
5th day of March, a.d. 1864. 

Bedford C. T. Pim.* f 

* Published in " Panama Star and Herald." 

I Since the above was in print, I have been informed that Captain Pirn ha^ obtained 
an extension of the term of his contract to ninety-nine years, with an increased grant 
of lands and other privileges. 





Title I. — Grant of Privileges. 


The Government of New Granada, grants to the Company, styled 
the Panama PiAilroad Company, its representatives or assigns, the 
exclusive right of building a railroad between the two oceans, across the 
Isthmus of Panama, 


The privilege of building a raih'oad granted to the Company by the 
preceding article, shall continue in force forty-nine years, to be computed 
from the day of the completion of the road and its being opened to public 
use. Nevertheless, said privilege shall terminate before the expiration of 
the said forty-nine years, if before their expiration the Government shall 
have resumed the privilege by virtue of the right and power reserved by 
the following conditions. 

At the expiration of twenty years, counting from the day on which the 
Piailroad shall have been completed and opened to public use, the Govern- 
ment may resume the privilege for the benefit of New Granada, on paying 
the sum of five millions of dollars as the whole amount of indemnification. 
If the privilege be not not resumed at that date, it shall continue in force 
ten years longer for the benefit of the Company, at the end of which the 
Government may resume it, on paying four millions of dollars. If the 
privilege be not resumed even at the expiration of the last-mentioned 
X>eriod, then it shall continue in force for ten years longer, at the ex^xiration 


whereof the Government may resume the same on the payment of two 
millions of dollars. To entitle the Government to avail itself of the rights 
thus reserved to it of resuming the privilege granted, it must notify the 
Company of its intention so to do at least one year before the day of the 
completion of either of the three periods above mentioned. 


The sum to be paid to the Company on the resumption of the privilege in 
either of the three cases mentioned in the preceding article, shall be in 
specie, in American dollars, without deduction ; it being well understood 
that in all other cases in which mention is made of dollars in this contract, 
it is of American dollars, without deduction. 


The Company shall, after the resumption of the privilege, remain in 
possession of the lands granted to it gratuitously and perpetually by the 
eighteenth article of this contract. 


The railroad from ocean to ocean shall be completed within six years, 
to commence from the expiration of four months after the present act of 
concession shall have been approved by the Congress of the Republic, and 
the fact of its completion shall be proved before tlie Governor of Panama 
at the request of the Company, by a statement drawn up on each side, after 
discussion between it and the agent or agents of the Executive Power, 
commissioned for that purpose. 


While the exclusive privilege granted to the Company, or persons engaged 
in the enterprise of building the railroad from one ocean to the other, 
continues in force, the Government of the Ptepublic agrees neither itself to 
build nor to grant to any other Company whatever, under any title whatever, 
the right of building any other railroad on the Isthmus of Panama ; and it 
is likewise stipulated that, while the said privilege continues in force, the 
New Granadian Government shall have no power to undertake, nor to 
permit any other person to undertake, without the concurrence and consent 
of said Company, the opening of any maritime canal to unite the two 
Oceans across the said Isthmus of Panam^. 


During the whole term specified in the preceding article, and without 
interfering with the completion in due season of the railroad, the Company 


shall have also the exclusive right of making across the Isthmus of Panamd 
any sort of road for wheel-carriages, either from ocean to ocean, or to any 
point on the Eiver Chagres. Consequently, the New Granadian Govern- 
ment binds itself not to undertake, nor to permit any other Company or 
individual to imdertake, during the term specified in this article, the build- 
ing of any other Macdamised carriage-road, plank-road, or road of any 
other kind suitable for the use of wheel-carriages, between the tv/o oceans, 
across the Isthmus of Panama ; it being, nevertheless, well understood that 
the privilege of which this article treats, cannot and must not in any 
manner prevent the completion, preservation, and improvement of roads 
which already exist, or which are actually being constructed on the said 


The Company shall have, moreover, the exclusive privilege of navigating 
the Chagi'es Eiver by steam power, until the railroad is completed from 
one ocean to the other, on the terms specified in this contract, and in 
accordance with its provisions ; the Company, in the meantime being 
bound to keep constantly on said river one or more steamboats employed 
in transportation ; but the provision in this clause shall not prevent steam- 
boats, which may now be in said river, from continuing to navigate the 


Exclusive privilege is also granted to the Company for forty-nine 
years : — 

1st. To use the ports situated at the two termini of the railroad, 
required for the anchorage of vessels, and for the loading and unloading of 
goods, which are to pass over the said road. 

2nd. To use the landings necessary, and especially those designed for the 
storage and free deposit of all goods and merchandise, admitted for transit 
across the Isthmus on the railroad built by the Company. By virtue of 
said privilege, the Company may collect as a compensation for the use of 
the line of communication, means of transportation, ports, landings, ware- 
houses, and establishments of all kinds belonging to it, such tolls, storage, 
and carriage as the Company may think proper to establish. 


The Executive power shall determine the forms to be observed in the 
landing of goods on either ocean ; and the intervention therein of the officers 
of the republic to prevent the effects destined for transit from one ocean to the 
other, from being left on the way, or fraudulently introduced for internal 
consumption. Said precautions sliall be such as may tend to prevent all 
frauds to the injury of the public revenue, without delaying or embarrassing 


the rapid despatcli and transit of passengers and packages of merchandise, 
luggage, and goods of all kinds which may be subjects of lawful commerce. 


During the progress of the Railroad towards completion, the Company 
may open to public use such portion thereof as may be passable and as 
may be judged proper to be put in use, as its partial completion progresses. 
The Company may also then enter proportionally into the enjoyment of the 
grants, privileges, and advantages, which form the subject of the present 
grant, in conformity with the provision of the second chapter of this 


The completion of one-half of the Railroad shall secure to the Company 
the absolute possession of the entire privilege hereby granted, and of all the 
rights appertaining to it ; the Company, however, remaining always bound 
to complete the road within six years, in pursuance of article fifth, or in 
eight years, in case the period for such completion of the said road should 
be thus far extended, in default of which it shall incur the fines and 
penalties provided for in the aforementioned second chapter of this 


The Company may give to the Railroad between the two oceans across 
the Isthmus of Panama, such direction as it may judge most favourable for 
the enterprise ; the points of departure and arrival, which it may consider 
most advantageous and convenient for the entrance and anchorage of vessels 
or for ports properly so called, and for wharves, dry docks, places for 
lighterage, landings, warehouses, stations, hotels, and establishments of all 
kinds, being at its free option ; it being nevertheless stipulated that the 
provisions of this article shall be understood without prejudice to what is 
hereinafter provided in article fifty-second of this contract. 


The Company is also at liberty to select the mode which it may consider 
most favourable for the construction and working of the railroad, provided 
it be completed in such a manner that travellers and goods passing over it 
may be transported in twelve hours at the farthest from one ocean to the 
other, and vice versa. 


Title II. — Grants of Lands. 


In consideration of the difficulties of the enterprise, and of the direct and 
indirect advantages which the republic must derive from it, various grants 
of lands are made to the Company, on the continental part of the Isthmus, 
comprised within the limits which bounded the provinces of Panam^ and 
Yeraguas on the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and 
forty-nine. The Government of the republic grants, therefore, gratuitously 
to the Company, on the terms mentioned in this article : 

1st. The lands which may be necessary for the building of the line of the 
railroad through its whole extent. 

2nd. All the lands which it may require for the estabhshment of sea- 
ports, dry docks, river ports, landings, wharves, places for hghterage, ware- 
houses, stations, hotels, and in general for all purposes necessary in the 
construction and working of the railroad. ^ 


Although, according to what is expressed in the preceding article, the 
Company has no right to vacant lands on the islands adjacent to the 
Isthmus of Panama ; the Government of the republic, nevertheless, binds 
itself to grant to the Company all the vacant lands on the island of 
Manzanillo, in the Bay Limon, whenever the Company considers it proper 
to extend the works of the railroad to said island, so that one of its 
extremities terminates thereon. 


The grant of vacant lands, mentioned in the two preceding articles, is to 
be understood as referring to lands belonging to the republic. With regard 
to those which are the property of individuals, the Company must obtain 
them from their owners, after valuation and proper indemnification, in the 
manner specified in article twenty-first. 

The lands granted by the Government of the repubhc, as specified in 
the two preceding articles, shall revert to its possession and jurisdiction 
immediately on the expiration of this privilege ; and shall be restored to it 
by the Company on the dates fixed for that purpose, in the prescribed form, 
and agreeably to the conditions specified in the second chapter of this con- 
tract, wherein the duties and obligations assumed by the Company are set 


A grant is, moreover, made to the Company, gratuitously and in perpe- 
tuity, of one hundred thousand /awe^rarirts of vacant land, in the provinces of 


Panama and Veragnas, within tlic limits set forth in the first part of the 
fifteenth article, which may be increased to one hundred and fifty thousand, 
if such extent be found at the disposal of the Government in the two 
provinces above mentioned, so that the Government can pronounce them 
vacant ; and the Company shall have liberty to select them, in the con- 
tinental portion of said provinces, where it may judge most proper. It 
being stipulated, that in those which may be selected on the line of the road 
or in its vicinity, intervals shall be positively left, of equal extent to those 
which the Company reserves to itself, so that the Government of the 
republic may make grants or sales of land for other establishments, which 
may be made on said line or in the vicinity of the road. 

The one hundred thousand fanegadas of land, or such number thereof, 
up to the number of one hundred and fifty thousand /cme^ac^as, which may 
be at the disposal of the Government as vacant, and granted to the Com- 
pany, may be used to make therein encampments for workmen, fields for 
cultivation, pastures for beasts of burden and cattle, places for cutting wood, 
for building or for fuel ; and in general for establishments suitable for 
facilitating any industrial operations undertaken by the Company, especially 
those relating to colonization. 

If, which is not to be expected, there should not be within the limits of 
the provinces of Panamd and Veraguas, mentioned in the preceding fifteenth 
article, the vacant lands necessary to secure to the Company the one 
hundred thousand fanegadas specified in this article, those which may be 
w^anted to complete the one hundred thousand fanegadas, will be granted 
at the points which the said Company may designate in the continental 
part of the provinces of Carthagena, Santa Marta, Eiohacha, and Choco ; this 
grant, and the others mentioned in the present article, being understood in 
reference to the vacant lands which belong to the State, and to no others. 

The Government of the republic will make no grants of vacant lands 
within the limits aforementioned of the provinces of Panama and Veraguas, 
until after those mentioned in this article have been delivered into the 
possession of the Company ; saving, nevertheless, the right which any other 
person may have acquired by virtue of grants of the Granadian Government, 
anterior to the date of the present contract. 


The vacant lands granted to the Company by the eighteenth article of 
this contract, are given to it in full ownership ; and the Company may 
freely dispose of them during the continuance of the privilege granted, and 
after the termination of said period, or the resumption of the said privilege. 



The lands mentioned in the preceding article, and the lands appropriated 
for the railroad, shall be delivered to the Company as they may he 
requested, and agreeably to the provisions of the fifteenth, sixteenth, 
seventeenth, and eighteenth articles of this contract. 


When the lands required for building the railroad, for ports or any other 
appurtenances of the works of said road, are the property of individuals, the 
Company shall have the right to take them, by order of the Governors of 
the respective provinces, after valuation made, and just indemnification 
given to the owner, in conformity with the provisions of the law of June 2nd, 
1848, defining the cases in which property may be taken for public use, and 
the forms to be observed in such cases. 


The delivery to the Company of the vacant lands granted gratuitously to 
it, shall be effected provisionally, so soon as they may be designated by the 
Company, after proof of their character as vacant lands, a survey and an 
appropriation to it by the Grovemor of the respective province. This pro- 
visional appropriation shall be submitted to the examination and approval 
of the Executive Power. So long as it shall not be confirmed, it shall only 
produce the effect of preventing any subsequent grants of the lands in favour 
of a third person ; but from the time it has been examined and approved, 
in conformity with this article, it shall be equivalent to taking formal 
possession thereof. 


The Company being at liberty to vary or modify the line of the railroad, 
if difiBculties or obstacles should be found in carrying it out on the line first 
selected, may in such case change also, on the portion so varied, the location 
which it may have previously made of the vacant lands, which it can obtain 
gratuitously, according to the stipulations of the fifteenth article. 

Title III. — Bights, FrancJiises, and Exemptions. 


The Ptepublic, in order to aid as far as possible on its part the enterprise 
of the Company, and to facilitate the success of its operations of all kinds^ 
confers upon the Company the rights, franchises, and exemptions mentioned 
in the articles following : 



The enterprise is deemed of public utility: consequently the "Panama 
Eailroad Company " has all the rights which the laws and regulations of 
the State confer upon the executive administration for national works. 


The Company is authorized to propose to the Executive Power such 
regulations as it may judge proper for the police, security, use and preserva- 
tion of its ways of communication, ports, works and establishments of all 
kinds ; but such regulations shall not take effect without the express approval 
of the Executive Power, which even after having approved, may annul or 
amend them, if it think proper, proceeding always in conformity with the 
laws of the repubhc. 


The rates of transportation or freight of money, carriage of merchandise or 
travellers over the railroad, of port dues, board and storage in its depots and 
establishments, shall be fixed by the Company, and modified as it may 
judge proper, making them immediately known to the local authorities, in 
order that the public may be informed of them. 


All correspondence which may arrive from the territory of the republic 
. or from foreign centuries, to be transported over the railroad, whatever may 
be its destination, must absolutely pass through the post-offices of New 
Granada, which shall open with the Company an annual account-current of 
postage, in order to compute the share of profits belonging to New Granada, 
in conformity with the provisions of the thirtieth article of this contract, 
and in order to guard against fraud in this respect. 


To carry out the stipulation in the preceding article, the Company binds 
itself not to receive any other packages of correspondence than those 
delivered to it by the post-offices of New Granada, to be carried by the 
railroad to their port of embarkation, or to the point on the Isthmus for 
which they may be destined on the line of the said road, complying with 
the regulations which the Executive power may lay down on the subject, 
and also with those which may be given for the carrying on said road of the 
correspondence of foreign nations, which may be delivered to the Company 
by the officers of the Eepublic for that purpose. 



The Executive Power shall at all times determine what foreign nations 
may be permitted to transport their correspondence across the Isthmus of 
Panam^ by the raih'oad ; but in all cases in which the mails of foreign 
nations shall be permitted to pass by the Isthmus of Panama, all contracts 
and pecuniary agreements for their transportation by the said railroad shall 
be made by the Company, and all the pecuniary proceeds of such contracts 
and agreements shall go into the funds of the Company as a branch of its 
profits. In compensation for this privilege, this Company;undertakes to 
transport by the railroad, free of charge, all the mails of New Granada, and 
moreover to pay to the Government of the republic five per cent, on all sums 
of money which it may receive in virtue of said contracts and agreements, 
whether such sums proceed from contracts which the Company may enter 
into Tvith foreign governments, or with other companies, or from the general 
regulations which it may establish for the carrying of the correspondence of 
nations which may not have entered into special contracts with it. 

And it is also stipulated : 1st. That whatever may be the profit which 
the Company may receive by virtue of such contracts and agreements, in no 
case shall it on this account pay to the Government of New Granada less 
than ten thousand dollars per annum ; 2nd. That this payment shall be over 
and above the three per cent, of the net profits of the enterprise to which 
New Granada is entitled ; and 3rd. That the power of the Company to enter ' 
into such contracts or pecuniary agreements shall not be opposed in any 
manner to the contracts or agreements which now exist between the repubhc 
of New Granada and any foreign nation or nations, for the transportation of 
mails on the Isthmus of Panamd,. 


The services of all kinds which the Company is to perform on the 
railroad, during the continuance of its privilege, shall be performed exclu- 
sively by its agents, and with the materials belonging to it, unless it should 
choose to perform them in another way. 


The Company may freely introduce into the Isthmus, without paying 
duties or taxes of any kind, all the implements, machines, iron tools, 
materials and manufactured articles intended for the construction, working, 
and preservation of the railroad, and also the articles required for the sub- 
sistence and clothing of the workmen employed in the work, during the 
whole period of the construction of the road ; being subject in this respect to 
the regulations which the Executive may establish. 

2 E 



No taxes or contributions, national, provincial, mnnicijial, nor of any 
other kind, shall he imposed upon the railroad or upon its warehouses, 
furniture, machines or other works, property and effects of any kind belong- 
ing to it, and which in the judgment of the Executive power arc necessary 
for the service of the said railroad or its dependencies ; and in compensation 
it is expressly stipulated that, in every case and notwithstanding any pro- 
visions of this contract to the contrary, the troops, warlike stores, arms, 
clothing and other effects of the Government of the Republic, and persons 
coming to it as new settlers on account of the State, shall be transported 
gratuitously over the railroad at the charge and cost of the Company, and 
without the Government or such troops or colonists having to pay anything 
for freight or for any other cause. 


Passengers, money, merchandise, goods and effects of all kinds which may 
be transported across the Isthmus, to go from one ocean to the other by the 
railroad, shall be exempt from taxes and imposts, national, provincial, 
municipal, or of any other description. The same exemption is extended 
to all effects and merchandise which may remain on deposit in the ports, 
stores, and landings of the Company, destined either for the interior or for 
other countries ; but the merchandise or effects, destined for consumption 
in the interior of the Republic, shall pay the duties and imposts established, 
or which may be established, when such goods leave the warehouses of the 
Company ; to which end their delivery shall be conducted under the cog- 
nizance of the officers of the Republic, and in conformity with the laws and 
regulations laid down by the Executive. 


Foreigners who may form settlements on the vacant lands granted 
gratuitously to the Company, shall be exempt during the space of twentj' 
years from the date of the formation of such settlements, from all forced 
contributions, and from tithes and first-fruits on their agricultural property 
and their products for home consumption ; they shall be entitled to receive 
letters of naturalization as soon as they solicit them, on fixing their resi- 
dence in the territory of the Republic ; and during the said term of twenty 
years from the formation of their settlements, they shall not be obliged to 
serve in the army, navy, or national guard, nor to take arms in defence of 
the republic, save in case of foreign invasion. 


Travellers passing from one sea to the other over the railroad shall not 
require any passport to pass over it, except in cases of foreign war or 


internal political commotion, when the Government may deem the pre- 
sentation of passports expedient for the security of the country or the 
preservation of public order. Nevertheless, persons who have been expelled 
from the territory of the Eepublic, or other individuals whom the laws may 
have forbidden to enter it, shall not pass over the Isthmus. 



The Company undertakes to execute, at its own expense, risk, and peril, 
all the works necessary for the establishment and construction of a railroad, 
to open and keep up a line of communication between the two oceans across 
the Isthmus of Panamd. 


The said works shall, unless in case of superior force, be commenced 
within the period of eighteen months, which shall begin to run four months 
after the approval of this contract by the Congress of the republic. Works 
of a definite nature, in respect to the laying out the line, indispensable to its 
execution, shall be regarded as the beginning of the enterprise. 


The said works shall be completed within the term of six years, counting 
from the expiration of four months after the approval of this contract by 
Congress ; so that the railroad undertaken by the Company shall be passable 
in all its parts at the expiration of the term so specified ; but if after con- 
structing and making passable one-third part of the railroad, the Company 
should find that it cannot finish it in its whole extent in the six years 
agreed upon in this article, it shall have the right to ask an extension of the 
term, which shall be granted by the Executive for two years, in addition to 
the six years fiLxed for the completion of the whole railroad, without incur- 
ring thereby any of the penalties contained in this second chapter of this 


The Company shall secure the fulfilment of the obligations assumed by 
it for the execution of the works of the enterprise which is the subject of 
this contract, in the sum of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars ; but 

2 E 2 


it shall, not be necessary for the Company to deposit this sum in cash, but 
only to secure it by means of an instrument of hypothecation of double the 
amount, executed with all proper solemnities, and to the entire satisfaction 
of the Government of the republic, to answer by virtue of such security for 
the said sum of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, in case the 
railroad should not be completed within the time stipulated in this contract, 
and in accordance with the provisions herein agreed upon. 


In case the privilege should become void in consequence of failure to 
begin the work, or from its not being completed in the manner and within 
the period prescribed therefore, the Company shall forfeit in favour of the 
republic the sum of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, mentioned 
in the preceding article. 


If the Company should not have made its preparations for beginning its 
works agreeably to the thirty-eighth article, and if it should not have 
actually begun the same twenty-two months after this contract has been 
approved by Congress, it shall forfeit all the privileges and advantages 
which result to it therefrom ; unless the agents of the Government of the 
Republic should not have effected the delivery of the lands necessary for the 
road within three months after they have been demanded by the Company. 
In this case, the term allowed by the thirty-eighth article for the com- 
mencement of the work, shall be extended for a period equal to that of the 
delay it has sustained in the delivery of the lands, after the three months 
from the time of their being demanded. 


If at the end of the six years fixed for the completion of the railroad, the 
Company should not have completed half of the work, it shall incur the 
penalty of the avoidance of the privilege, and forfeit the sum of one 
hundred and twenty thousand dollars, secured by the obligation in double 
the amount which it is to execute as a guarantee of the fulfilment of the 
conditions which it assumes. The Company shall incur the same penalties, 
if at the end of the eight years the works of the railroad shall not be com- 
pleted, and the said road passable throughout, in the manner and form and 
according to the conditions set forth in this contract. 


In case of forfeiture legally declared against the Company, it shall be 
bound to return to the Government the lands granted gratuitously to it, 
and in the same condition in which they may be when the forfeiture is 


pronounced ; without any obligation on the part of the New Granadian 
Government to make the said Company, or to its assigns, any indemni- 
fication for improvements or for any other cause. 


After the entire completion of the work of the line of the railroad, the 
Company shall order a survey of the lands to be made at its own expense, 
with notice to the owners of the lands adjoining, together with a statistical 
plan of all the parts of the road, which are to be returned with it to the 
republic at the time of the expiration of the privilege. It shall also order 
a descriptive statement to be made, at its own expense, of the bridges, 
aqueducts, and other works of art which may have been constructed, and 
which are to be returned to the republic at the same time. 


The Company shall make also, at its own expense, similar descriptive 
statements of all the subsequent works of the same kind, which it may 
afterwards construct during the period of its possession of the privilege. 


An exact and authenticated duplicate of the statistical plan and descrip- 
tive statements above mentioned, shall be delivered by the Company to the 
Governor of Panamd, or sent to the office of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 
to be deposited in the national archives for use there, in case of need, during 
the continuance of the privilege, or at the time of its expiration. 


One year before the expiration of the privilege, the Company shall be 
bound to make, on notice to and after hearing the agents of the republic 
commissioned for the purpose, valuations, statements and inventories of the 
immovable property, bridges, aqueducts, and other works of art, which are 
to be returned to the republic, agreeably to the descriptive statements and 
statistical plan, of which the duplicates shall have been deposited in the 
archives of the administration of New Granada. 


At the expiration of the term of the privilege, and by the mere fact of its 
expiration, or in case of the resumption of the privilege, as provided in the 
second article of this contract, and by the mere fact of the resumption, the 
Government of New Granada shall be substituted in all the rights of the 
Company, in the ownership of the lands and of the works of art, designated 
in the statistical plan and in the inventories and descriptive statements 


above mentioned, and shall enter immediately into the enjoyment of the 
line of communication, of all its appurtenances and dependencies, and of all 
profits accruing therefrom. The Company shall be bound to deliver to the 
Government in good condition, the roads, the works which compose them, 
and their appurtenances, such as the places for lighterage, for discharging 
cargo, guard-houses for the inspectors, offices for the collection of freight and 
carriage, machines fixed or movable, and in general all objects movable and 
immovable, whether destined specially for the service of transportation, or 
applicable to any other object connected with the enterprise, and whether 
included or omitted in the said plans, inventories, statements, and statistical 


In conformity with what is already specified, it is hereby expressly 
stipulated, that when, at any time or lor any» cause whatever, the privilege 
of the Company shall terminate or expire, the Government of the Kepublic 
shall enter immediately and gratuitously into the enjoyment, ownership, and 
possession of all the objects which form the subject of articles forty-eight 
and forty-nine preceding the present ; and consequently the said Govern- 
ment shall enter likewise immediately and gratuitously into the enjoyment, 
ownership, and possession of the railroad in its whole extent, from one ocean 
to the other, and of the places for lighterage, waggon-roads, lateral and cross, 
places for loading and unloading, storehouses, stations, guard-houses for the 
police, offices for the collection of freight and carriage, machines fixed or 
movable, and in general of all the works, effects, utensils and things of every 
kind which in the judgment of the Executive power may be necessary for 
the use of the road and its dependencies, such as locomotives, cars and 
carriages of every description, materials and furniture of every kind, and, in 
fine, any other things, movable and immovable, which may be applicable to 
the service of the railroad and of the other roads, works, and establishments 
dependent upon it, or in any manner connected with the enterprise, or 
belonging to it, although not expressly mentioned in this article, nor in 
those preceding ; it being well understood that all these things, movable 
and immovable, shall pass, as it has been mentioned, into the enjoyment, 
ownership and possession of the Government of the republic, without its 
being obliged to pay anything to the Company by way of indemnification, 
or for any other cause. 


In consideration of the collection and receipt of the duties and rates of 
transportation fixed by it, the Company binds itself always to effect with 
care, punctuality, and celerity, and without exception as to national cha- 
racter, the transportation of travellers, cattle, merchandise, goods and 
materials of all kinds which may be confided to it, all of which shall be 


transported without any deduction from the established prices, except such 
as it may allow in favour of nations which are now bound, or which may 
hereafter become bound, by means of public treaties entered into with New 
Granada, to guarantee positively and effectually to this republic its rights 
of sovereignty and ownership over the territory of the Isthmus of Panama, 
and the perfect neutrality of said Isthmus, to the end that the free transit 
from one sea to the other may never be interrupted or embarrassed ; but 
notice is expressly given, and in fact it is hereby especially stipulated, that 
New Granada, Granadians and their property, shall enjoy all the benefits 
and advantages which any other nation whatever may obtain by virtue of 
the provision in this article. 


Whatever may be the line selected by the Company for building the 
railroad between the two oceans, one of its extremities shall be the city of 


Vessels of nations at war with New Granada shall not be admitted into 
the ports at either extremity of the railroad, nor shall the productions, 
effects, and property of such nations have free transit across the Isthmus on 
said road. 


The expenses of surveying and laying off the lands granted to the Com- 
pany, the cost of the statistical plan, inventories, and descriptive statements 
mentioned in this contract, as well as the expenses and costs of the titles of 
ownership to be given by the authorities or notaries of the republic, shall 
be borne by the said Company ; but all documents, of whatever nature, 
drawn up in the execution of this contract, shall be registered without cost. 


The Company binds itself to pay annually to the Government of New 
Granada three per cent, of the net profits of the enterprise, in the same 
proportion in which they are to be distributed in form of dividends to the 
shareholders, without taking into account, in the payment of the said three 
per cent., any deduction for the supposed interest of the capital of the Com- 
pany, or for any sum which, the shareholders may designate as a reserve or 
sinking fund. It is stipulated that for the receipt of this duty, the Govern- 
ment of New Granada shall look, with the shareholders of the enterprise, to 
the accounts produced and liquidated at the general meeting of the Company, 
which accounts the agent of the republic may examine, and in respect to 
them he may make observations in the same manner as any shareholder • 
but without power of interfering in the general management of the Com- 


pany. Besides what is stipulated in this article, it is also agreed that the 
payment of the said duty of three per cent, shall be made at Bogota, Panama 
or New York, as the Government of the republic may direct. 


The Company selects New York as its domicile, and will maintain in 
Panamd a representative, with powers sufficient to act in its name in all 
cases where it may be necessary. 


The present privilege cannot be granted or assigned to any foreign govern- 
ment, that is, to any government out of the New Granadian tenitory, under 
penalty of forfeiture of the privilege, by the mere fact of attempting or 
carrying into effect such grant or assignment ; and although it should at 
any time be attempted or carried into effect, it will be, and from this time 
is, declared absolutely null, and of no force or effect. 


Wherever in this contract mention is made of the completion, expiration 
or termination of the privilege granted by it, all that is said in reference to 
such completion, expiration or termination, shall be understood as said and 
applicable also to the case of the resumption of the said privilege. Conse- 
quently, it is expressly stipulated, that at any time when the said privilege 
may be resumed, according to the second article in this contract, the Panamd 
Eailroad Company shall fulfil all the duties incumbent upon it, in the same 
terms as if the forty-nine years, which the privilege at the utmost may 
extend, had expired : and it is also expressly stipulated, that for the sum 
which may be paid as indemnification to the Panama Eailroad Company, in 
any of the three cases set forth in the article last mentioned, the Govern- 
ment of New Granada shall acquire not only the rights, but also all the 
material objects, which the Company is bound to deliver to it on the 
expiration of the privilege, which delivery shall be made as may be estab- 
lished by general regulation, on the same terms on which it should take 
place if the forty-nine years, which the privilege at the utmost may 
continue, had expired. 


Controversies which may arise between the Executive power of New 
Granada and the Panam4 Eailroad Company, in regard to the fulfilment 
or failure in fulfilment of this contract, or upon the understanding or con- 
struction of the clauses it contains, shall be determined by the magistrates 
and according to the laws of the Eepublic of New Granada. In no case 
shall any privilege, immunity, or exemption be alleged, which is not 


expressly recognised or granted in this contract ; nor will the intervention 
of any authority or functionary other than those legally established with 
jurisdiction in the republic, be allowed. Such controversies as may affect 
the existence, preservation, or permanency of the privilege and of the rights 
thereunto appertaining, shall be decided by arbitration. 


The Government of the Republic binds itself to protect and maintain, 
fully and entirely, the rights of the Company under this contract ; and to 
this end it agrees, that where doubts occur in the construction of any clause 
or clauses inserted in the preceding articles, which secure to the Company 
any inducements or advantages, if such doubts should occur in consequence 
of such clauses not being sufSciently explicit, they shall be interpreted in 
the natural signification most favourable to the Company, 


All the legislative acts,' decrees and agreements by which, in former 
years, various privileges were granted for the opening of an inter-marine 
communication by the Isthmus of Panama, are irrevocably annulled. Con-» 
sequently, the " Panama Railroad Company " has the sole right and duty 
of constructing a railroad from one ocean to the other by the said Isthmus, 
in conformity with the stipulations of this contract, which is the only one 
remaining in force on the subject between the Government of the republic 
and said Company ; since by this clause not only all the acts, decrees and 
agreements above mentioned, but especially all the contracts and stipula- 
tions which formerly existed between the said Government and the said 
Company, or the individuals, of whose rights it is the assignee, are annulled. 


This contract, as divided into two chapters, and extending to sixty-two 
articles, shall be submitted for approval to the Executive power of the 
Republic, and that being obtained, shall be presented by it to Congress ; 
the consent and approval of which are required, in order that, receiving the 
force of a law, it may be carried into effect. 

In testimony whereof the Commissioners on either side, that is to say, 
Victoriano de Diego Paredes as Secretary of Foreign affairs of the Republic 
of New Granada, acting in the name and by the special authority of the 
Government of the said Republic, and John Lloyd Stephens as Vice- 
President and General Commissioner of the Panama Railroad Company, 
acting in the name and by the especial authority of the said Company, have 
prepared two copies of this contract, both of the same tenor and form ; and 


in evidence thereof, they sign and seal them with, their respective private 
seals in Bogota the 15th day of the month of April, in the year of our 
Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty. 

VICTo DE D. PAK^DES, [l. s.] 

Bogota, sixteenth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and fifty. 



Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 
[l. s.] YICTo DE D. PAKEDES. 

Protocol of the last Conference held to comx)lete the execution of the " Con- 
tract concerning the privilege of constructing a Bailroad from one Ocean 
to the other across the Isthmus of Panama.^' 

In the city of Bogota, on the fifteenth day of April, eighteen hundred and 
fifty, met in the office of Foreign Affairs of New Granada, Victoriano de 
Diego Parades, Secretary of State and of the above-mentioned Department 
of Foreign Affairs, and John Lloyd Stephens, General Agent of the Panamd 
Eailroad Company, for the purpose signing and sealing in duplicate the 
contract which they have concluded on this date, in respect to the privilege 
of constructing a Eailroad on the Isthmus of Panamd ; and the said original 
documents being produced, Seiior Paredes declared : that before signing 
the same he was directed to inform Mr. Ste^jhens, that the Government of 
the Republic understands, and solemnly declares, that by the sixty-first 
article of the before-mentioned contract are annulled, not only all the acts, 
decrees, and agreements therein expressed, but also all and every other 
contract or contracts, which Senor Rafael Rivas, Charge d' Affaires of the 
Republic of New Granada in Washington, may have executed, or may execute, 
with the Panam4 Railroad Company, before receiving intelligence of said 
before-mentioned contract, which is to be executed on this date ; and that 
although Mr. Stephens had announced that he acquiesced in the above- 
mentioned understanding of the said sixty-first article, the Granadian 
Government wishes some formal evidence of that fact to remain in its 
possession ; and consequently declarant announces anew, in the name of 
the said Government, that every other contract, which may have been, or 
may be executed without knowledge of that which is this day to be signed, 
shall be null and of no validity or effect, so that if hereafter it shall appear 
that before, after, or at the same time with the signature of the said contract, 
there has been in course of execution, about to be or already executed any 


other contract or contracts on the same subject, such contract or contracts 
executed without knowledge of that which is this day to be signed, shall 
be absolutely invalid, and only that which is here present for execution shall 
remain in force and effect. 

Mr. Stephens being made acquainted with the declaration herein men- 
tioned, accepted it fully and absolutely as General Agent of his principal, 
the Panama Kailroad Company, in the name of which he made in terms 
similar to the preceding another declaration of the same purport, which was 
also fully and absolutely accepted by Seuor Paredes in the name and as the 
representative of the Government of New Granada. 

Subsequently the said dupUcates of the contract, in respect to the privi- 
lege of the construction of a Railroad on the Isthmus of Panama, were read 
and carefully compared, and having been found to be of the same tenor and in 
the same form, were signed and sealed by the said Senores Paredes and 
Stephens, whereupon the conference terminated and this protocol was 
drawn up. 

In proof and for a general evidence whereof, and in order that the same 
may be specially proven at the time of considering in Congress the con- 
tract herein mentioned, this transaction has been drawn up in duplicate, in 
Bogota, on the before-mentioned fifteenth day of April, eighteen hundred 
and fifty. 



Protocol of a Conference 'between the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of 
Neiu Granada and the Commissioner of the Panama Railroad Company. 

Met in the office of the Department of Foreign Affairs the undersigned, 
that is to say, Victoriano de Diego Paredes, Secretary of the said Depart- 
ment, and John Lloyd Stephens, Vice-President and Commissioner of the 
Panama Railroad Company. Senor Paredes stated to Mr. Stephens as 
follows : that he had invited him to this conference, in the first place, with 
the object of bringing to his knowledge the Legislative Decree, issued under 
date of the 29th of May last past, approving the contract entered into the 
15th of April preceding, respecting the privilege of constructing a Railroad 
from one ocean to the other of the Isthmus of Panama ; and in the second 
place, in order that, being advised of the modifications with which said 
contract had been approved by Congress, he might declare if he accepted 
them in all points in the name of his principal, the Panamd Railroad 

Consequently, the two copies of the before-mentioned Legislative Decree, 


which had been passed by Congress to the Executive Power, being presented 
to him, Senor Paredes gave notice to Mr. Stephens, that by virtue of provi- 
sion in said Legislative Decree, the contract of the 15th of April, above 
referred to, had received various modifications, without which it could not 
be considered as subsisting, or be carried into effect, to wit : 

1st. Article twenty-fifth is reduced to its first clause, which says : " The 
enterprise is deemed of public utility." The rest is rejected. 

2nd. The word hipotecaria (instrument of hypothecation) in the fortieth 
article is suppressed. 

3rd. On no account and at no time shall the work of the railroad be 
suspended by reason of differences, which may arise between the Company 
and the owners of land, as to the value which must be put upon such as it 
may be necessary to purchase for the building of the said road ; but in order 
to give positive guarantees to such owners, and that their rights may not in 
any manner be prejudiced, the Company shall execute a personal under- 
taking or mortgage, sufficient in the judgment of the Governor of Panama 
to answer for the price which may be fixed for said lands, according to the 
law of the second of June, one thousand eight hundred and forty-eight, 
" Of Expropriation." 

4th. The Eailroad enterprise, being of public utility, the authorities shall 
afford it all possible protection in conformity with the laws. 

Having made this declaration, Senor Paredes asked Mr. Stephens if he 
accepted the contract with the amendments which had been stated, and Mr. 
Stephens answered that he accepted it in all its parts, in the name and as 
the representative of the Panama Railroad Company, with the amendments 
which had been stated, that is, with the suppression and modifications which 
the Congress of the Eepublic has seen fit to make to the said contract in the 
before-mentioned Legislative Decree. 

In testimony whereof this conference is drawn up in duplicate, in Bogoti, 
the third day of June, one thousand eight hundred and fifty. 


APPEND] X. 417 



Bogota, Wednesday, July 21st, 1852. 

Year xxi. No. 1406. 

Office of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. 


The Decree in regard to grants, made to the Panamd Eailroad Company, 
having been published with several mistakes in the Gazette, No. 1368, of 
Tuesday, the 18th of May, which erroneously received the number 1367, 
its publication is repeated. 

(of May Uth, 1852.) 
In regard to Grants to the Panama Bailroad Coiujpany. 
The Senate and House of Eepresentatives, in Congress assembled. 

Enact as follows : 

Article 1st. Among the lands granted to the Panama Railroad Com- 
pany by the 18th Article of the Contract of June 4th, 1850, shall be 
computed those which form the Island of Manzanillo, in the Bay of Limon, 
in the proportion of one fanegada on said island for two of those which it is 
entitled to receive upon the continent, adjacent to the railroad. The said 
island is thereby granted in ownership to the said Company, notwithstand- 
ing the stipulations in Articles 16 and 17 of the said contract ; but the 
Company must deliver to the Government at the expiration thereof, all the 
works, appurtenances, and other objects existing on the said island, and to 
which the Government has any right under the stipulations in Articles 48, 
49, and 50. 

Art. 2nd. The lands and shores of which the Company can make use at 
both extremeties of the railroad, on the portion covered by the sea at high 
tide, are likewise granted in full ownership to the said Company, as a part 
of the waste lands to which it is entitled under the contract. 

Art. 3rd. So long as the whole of the road, which is in process of con- 


striiction, shall not be finished and opened to the public, the Company shall 
be under no other obligation to the Government of the republic, in respect 
to the sums of money which it is bound to pay thereto for the transit of 
foreign mails, in conformity with Article 30 of said contract, than the 
payment of five per cent, of the profits received by the Company on that 

Art. 4th. Persons travelling on the line of the railroad, that is to say, 
the tract cleared and prepared for the same, as soon as it has been opened to 
public use, otherwise than in the conveyances of the Company, and on 
paying the rates of passage fixed by it, shall be liable to a fine of 200 reales 
each, commutable by six days of arrest for those who cannot pay. 

Paragraph. The Provincial Chamber of Panama shall appoint such 
number of Officers of Police, as the Railroad Company may require, for the 
apprehension of offenders and their submission to the proper authorities, 
who shall proceed in accordance with the rules prescribed for cases of 
infractions of police regulation. Such officers shall receive from the 
Company the salaries fixed for them by the Provincial Chamber. 

Art. 5th. The Executive shall put the Panamd Railroad Company in 
possession of the grants herein before mentioned, when it shall deem 

Given at Bogota, May 12th, 1852. 
President of the Senate, Vicente Lombana ; Secretary of the Senate, 
Medario Rivas ; President of the Chamber of Representatives, Justo 
Arosemena ; Secretary of the Chamber of Representatives, Antonio 
Maria Pradilla. 

Bogota, May 14:tJi, 1852. ' 
Let it be carried into Execution and Published. 
[l. s.] President of the HejpubUc, 


Secretary for Foreign Affairs, 


I certify that the foregoing contract has been compared with the original in 
.the office of the Panama Railroad Company, and is a correct copy thereof; and 
that the translation of the same into the English language has been made by 
me, and is a correct translation of the whole of the said original contract. 

Antonio Ahtells.